Gym member refused to wear a mask, punched employee, alleged victim says

An employee at LA Fitness in Arlington says he told a gym member to wear a mask while working out. Instead of complying, the man threw a punch, the employee said.

Sterling Malone, an employee at LA Fitness on Little Road said a gym member refused to wear a mask while exercising and then punched him in the face, according to a post on Malone’s Facebook page.

Arlington police responded to the gym at 12:30 p.m. July 4 to the reported assault. They are investigating the incident as an assault with bodily injury based on Malone’s injuries.

Malone posted photographs of his injuries on Facebook but did not respond to WFAA’s request for an interview. Dae Mitchell who owns Nutrition Nation, a health and fitness store in the same shopping center as LA Fitness said he spoke to Malone about the incident.

“It’s unfortunate that as adults you can’t comply with the rules,” Mitchell said. “He’s a good friend of the store and all around good guy, everyone loves him.”

The alleged assault is the latest in a string of incidents where customers react aggressively when employees ask them to comply with policies designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as numbers continue to rise in D-FW.

On June 27, video captured a woman throwing groceries out of her cart onto the floor of the Fiesta supermarket on the 3400 block of W. Illinois Avenue in Dallas. It happened moments after a manager asked her to put on the mask that she was holding in her hands.

On June 6, surveillance captured footage of a man shoving a female employee to the ground inside a business in Cedar Hill. That incident happened after the employee asked the man to wait outside for service because he wasn’t wearing a mask, according to Cedar Hill police.

Mitchell said as a business owner, he understands customers are frustrated, but said there’s no excuse for attacking workers risking their health to make ends meet.

“It is an inconvenience but people get sick and this is a real thing,” Mitchell said. “If you just work together on this we can get past all of this.”

WFAA requested a comment from LA Fitness and provided contact information to the gym’s manager. Neither the gym nor a corporate spokesperson responded.

Malone’s Facebook post identified the man he said attacked him. WFAA is not sharing that information as it has not been confirmed by Arlington police.

A department spokesperson tells WFAA investigators have made contact with that individual and are working to determine if he was involved in the alleged assault.

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