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Ohio Man Faces Hate Crime Charge after Threatening Gay Club Members, Employees

Michael D. Smith faces misdemeanor charges of ethnic intimidation, assault, aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct. 

A Columbus, Ohio, man who allegedly threatened to "shoot up" a fitness center if gay people were not removed from the club is facing a hate crime charge.

Michael D. Smith, 41, allegedly made the threat on two separate days at the club during the last week of August, according to a Columbus Dispatch report, citing court records. His alleged targets were gay employees and members, according to WBNS-10TV, citing police records.

Smith was arrested on Sept. 4 and faces misdemeanor charges of ethnic intimidation, assault, aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct. The ethnic intimidation charge is the city of Columbus' charge for a hate crime, and Smith faces a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail on that charge if convicted.

"I was in disbelief," CalFit 10 General Manager Dana Rocco told WCMH-TV. "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."

Smith was working out at the club when he loudly stated "he was upset about there being gay members at the gym and a gay instructor," according to WBNS10-TV. Smith allegedly charged at the instructor and needed to be restrained by witnesses, then threatened to "shoot up" the gym if the staff "did not get rid of the gay people."

"That's really disturbing, and it's just really scary," Rocco told WBNS10-TV.

Rocco sent an e-mail to Smith revoking his membership, and police said his response included expletives, gay slurs and a threat. Smith allegedly was warned four months earlier that his membership could be revoked after other members complained about him, according to the Dispatch report.

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