TOOELE, Utah - A man was airlifted to the hospital Monday after a string of strange incidents at a VASA fitness in Tooele, that started with the man allegedly pointing a fake gun at an employee, and ended with the suspect falling or jumping off the roof.
According to the Tooele Police Department, the 57-year old man approached an employee and pointed what looked to be a gun at him.
The employee, who didn't want to be identified, told Fox 13 in Spanish through a family member translator that the man jumped out at the employee as the employee went into the cleaning room.
"He held him at gun point, cussing him out, telling him to 'please stay there,'" the family member said, on behalf of the employee. "That's when [the employee] ran."
The employee said he jumped into the pool to avoid being shot. The man said he thought he was going to die, and became increasingly panicked and scared.
"All [the employee] can think and say, was 'Help! Get out. There's a person with a gun,'" the family member said.
VASA Fitness member Alex Workman said she heard all the commotion from the sauna, and she crouched down then looked out at what was going on.
"Out of nowhere I heard a bunch of yelling, and screaming and tackling," she recalled. She said she could hear the employee falling into the pool, and another employee yelled that someone had a gun.
"She was screaming and yelling," Workman recounted. "That’s when we knew at that point, okay it is real."
Workman, believing there was a possible active shooter in the building, began to strategize how she'd get out safely. She said she sent texts to her dad and fiance to tell them what was going on.
"There was running past the sauna... and then I heard, 'He's in the [men's] bathroom,'" Workman said. Taking that as her cue, Workman darted out of the sauna and said VASA employees urged everyone to get out. She helped evacuate customers from the building out the back door.
Tooele Police said the man gained access to the roof, and either jumped or fell off. Sergeant Tanya Kalma said he was taken by helicopter to a Salt Lake area hospital. They weren't sure of the severity of the man's injuries.
After the incident, she said police figured out the gun was really a toy.
"Because of the investigation, we've learned that gun was either some type of BB gun or some type of toy gun," she said.
Even though it ended up being a fake firearm, to the employee and witnesses like Workman, the situation and threat were very real-- and terrifying.
"To us, it was a gun. And that's all the mattered," Workman said. "It wasn't just people messing around, it was serious."