A woman exercising on an elliptical at a 24 Hour Fitness in Irving, TX, was stabbed Tuesday, allegedly by another member, who was arrested after being restrained by club members and staff.
Phillip Roberts, 33, allegedly used a screwdriver to stab the 49-year-old mother of four in the neck and back, puncturing her lung. He faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and is being held in lieu of bail of $100,000 at an Irving jail. The victim is recovering at a Dallas hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Three members at the club intervened to stop the attack and restrain Roberts, according to media reports. Justin Harper, a reserve officer with the Blue Mound Police Department, was working out on a treadmill when he heard a noise and saw a man hitting a woman with both hands as she was lying on the floor. Harper then tackled Roberts while another man jumped on Roberts' back. A third member held Roberts' legs. A club employee called 911.
"The 24 Hour Fitness team members initiated our response protocol as they have been trained to do," says a company spokesperson. "They called 911 when the incident occurred and assisted the injured member until police and medical emergency responders arrived."
Police placed the suspect in custody, and the club remained open for the rest of the day.
"Following the incident, our 24 Hour Fitness club team members and field leadership followed protocol according to their response training, making sure to include all team members already on site and those scheduled to work later in the day," the spokesperson says.
Roberts told the police that the woman was "playing inside his brain," according to media reports.
Police had been at the club at 5:32 a.m., 20 minutes before the stabbing, because a member, who was a regular at the gym at that time of day, called 911 about Roberts, whom the member had never seen before. She told police that Roberts was wearing a topcoat, walking around the gym with a suitcase and acting suspiciously, according to the 911 call.
"He's just walking around staring at people with this crazy stare," she said in the call.
When police arrived the first time, gym staff told the police that Roberts had a membership to the club, and the officers left, according to a story by WFAA, the local ABC TV station.
24 Hour Fitness revoked Phillips' membership and is cooperating with the local police on the investigation, according to the spokesperson. That spokesperson says that 24 Hour Fitness routinely assesses the security needs of its clubs, and because the police have already taken the suspect into custody, the company has determined that no changes to its policies or security measures are necessary at this time.
"The safety and security of our members are of the utmost importance for 24 Hour Fitness, and we want everyone to have a positive experience each time they visit our clubs," a statement by 24 Hour Fitness reads. "We are working closely with the police department in support of their investigation into the incident."