A 64-year-old man accused of pointing a gun at the manager of a gym because people were working out without face masks has pleaded guilty.
Michael Florhaug, of Maplewood, agreed this week to plead guilty to felony threats of violence in connection to the Dec. 31, 2020, incident at LA Fitness on County Road D in Maplewood.
According to the plea agreement, he will cooperate with a psychological evaluation, forfeit his gun, have no contact with the victim/LA Fitness, and take anger management and/or follow the recommendations of the psychological evaluation.
If he does this, his attorney Eric Newmark told the Star Tribune the plea agreement calls for him to serve 90 days in jail but could argue less time at his Aug. 23 sentencing.
In addition, this felony conviction will mean Florhaug no longer will have a permit to carry a firearm in public.
Florhaug had been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon but that was amended to felony threats of violence.
According to the charges against him, Florhaug spoke to a front desk employee in an "aggressive and angry manner about gym members not wearing masks," which were required at the time per Gov. Tim Walz's executive order.
A manager came to speak with Florhaug, at one point telling him to leave, and "tried to explain that staff cannot be everywhere in the gym to enforce the mask mandate," charges said. The manager said Florhaug, who was not an active member of the gym, "was welcome to pay an employee out of his own pocket to enforce the mask rules at the back of the gym."
At this point, Florhaug called the manager "dumb," with the manager responding by telling him he couldn't enter the gym, the complaint states. Florhaug then said he "was going to walk around the gym to take pictures of people," with the manager alerting gym members when Florhaug entered.
Then, when the manager put his hands up to stop Florhaug from entering the gym, he allegedly said "Oh, yeah?" before "he reached into a pocket, pulled out a gun, and pointed it at [the manager's] chest," per the criminal complaint.
When the manager backed away, Florhaug put the gun back in his sweatshirt pocket and started walking toward the front of the gym, charges note. The manager then tackled him from behind and disarmed him, removing the magazine from the gun and making sure there wasn't a round in the chamber.
When interviewed by police, Florhaug said he was a member of the gym but hadn't used it during the pandemic and "came by to check how compliant people were being with the mask mandate," the complaint said. He then claimed the manager "physically attacked him," and that rather than point the gun at the manager, he had only "flashed" it.