Man charged with ethnic intimidation after gym incident

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus man faces five charges for an incident stemming from an altercation at an area gym, including one which is unique and rarely issued.

According to police, Michael D. Smith verbally accosted members and staff at CalFit 10, on Dublin-Granville Road, who he perceived to be gay. At one point, officers say Smith had to be restrained from physically assaulting a gym employee.

The following day, police say Smith returned to the gym and threatened to use a firearm on staff members because they employ members of the LGBT community.

“I was in disbelief,” said Dana Rocco, general manager of CalFit 10. “It is terrible, in this day and age, when you still have this kind of action towards peoples’ culture and their backgrounds, their religion and their sexual orientation.”

Amongst the charges Smith now faces, one is for ethnic intimidation.

The state of Ohio’s ethnic intimidation law does not cover individuals due to sexual orientation or gender identity. The Columbus city code, however, does protect those groups.

Sgt. Nicholas Konves, with the Columbus Division of Police, said no one has been charged under the city code since the 1990s.

“It was nice having that to fall back on,” Konves said. “It’s one of those things that we have, we can use, but we don’t use it very often, which is a good thing. It tells you how diverse our city is and how open and welcoming it is to people of all walks of life.”

According to Rocco, Smith’s membership at CalFit 10 has been revoked.

NBC4i.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s