A Maplewood man took it upon himself to monitor members at a local gym for mask compliance and ended up being charged with a felony.
A criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County this week against Michael Marland Florhaug, 64, states that he pulled a gun on the manager of Maplewood LA Fitness on New Year’s Eve because he was upset that members were not wearing masks.
The manager tackled Florhaug, and no shots were fired, according to a report on the charges by KSTP.
Although Florhaug is not a member of the fitness center, he went to the gym located on County Road D near White Bear Avenue at about 5:30 p.m. last Thursday to monitor if members were following the state’s mask mandate. Fitness centers were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on Dec. 19, and members are required to wear masks, according to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order.
The charges detail that Florhaug spoke with an employee at the front desk in “an aggressive and angry manner” about members not wearing masks. The gym’s manager told Florhaug that it’s not possible for employees to monitor every area of the gym for mask compliance. According to the complaint, the manager then told Florhaug that he could pay a staff member himself to be in charge of making sure members were following the mask mandate.
After yelling at the manager, Florhaug said he was going to take pictures of people in the gym, which the gym prohibits without consent, and the manager put his hands up to stop him, the charges state.
Florhaug said, “Oh yeah?” and pulled a gun from his pocket, pointing it at the manager. The complaint said the manager backed away and Florhaug put the 9mm handgun back in his pocket. When Florhaug turned to walk into the gym, the manager tackled Florhaug, disarmed him, and removed the magazine from the gun.
Police arrived and arrested Florhaug. A witness corroborated that Florhaug pulled out the gun and pointed it at the manager, after Florhaug suggested that he only “flashed” the gun. The manager told police that he thought Florhaug was going to shoot at gym members who weren’t wearing masks.
Florhaug has been charged with one felony count of second-degree assault involving a dangerous weapon. He made his first court appearance on Tuesday, and court records show that Florhaug has retained a private attorney. The record further indicates that he was granted conditional release on zero bail and is no longer in custody.
The complaint noted that Florhaug has an active permit to carry a firearm. A search of Minnesota court records revealed no prior convictions for Florhaug, who is scheduled to make his next court appearance in Ramsey County on Feb. 18.
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