A man has been charged with a hate crime after threatening to commit a mass shooting at a gym.
Ohio man Michael D Smith, 41, was charged after the incident at a Columbus gym based on sexuality.
Smith got off his treadmill to attack a man he believed to be gay, claiming that he was not able to go into the locker room “because all the fags are in there”. He also claimed he “wished he could kill all the gays”.
It is also alleged that on another occasion Smith demanded that the Cal Fitness gym ban all gay members and staff – and threatened to “shoot up” the gym if his demands were rejected.
Smith had to be restrained by two members of staff after his aggressive outburst.
Smith was taken into custody and charged with a hate crime over the incident.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Smith’s attorney claimed that he had grown upset after being stared at in the showers and “hit on” by gay members.
However, the prosecutor retorted: “You can’t menace a person because they’re gay. It’s illegal.”
Smith was found guilty of ‘ethnic intimidation’ over the incident – the city’s hate crime charge – as well as aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct.
Smith is expected to be handed a custodial sentence by Judge Paul Herber on Tuesday.