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Fired Employee Suspected In Killing Of Gym Owner With Axe

Suspect Domenic Micheli escaped in a silver Yaris, police say.

By Eric Shorey

A fired trainer at a Nashville, Tennessee gym returned to his former place of employment and allegedly murdered a supervisor with a hatchet, according to police.

In the wake of the brutal slaying, a manhunt for the killer is underway.

Domenic Micheli entered the Balance Training facility at the Belle Meade Galleria shopping center in South Nashville at around 7 a.m. on June 4. Security footage showed him pacing around the parking area of the complex. Police say he was holding a hatchet and an unspecified “cutting instrument,” according to the Washington Post.

Micheli then allegedly attacked his former boss Joel Paavola.

There was a struggle,” Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron, told News Channel 5. “Mr. Paavola obviously tried to defend himself against this attack. But Mr. Micheli was very brutal.”

Following the violent skirmish, Paavola died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.

Micheli fled from the scene in a silver Yaris and has yet to be tracked down by police. They said he may be armed.

Police encouraged citizens to be alert and on the lookout for Micheli.

Friends of both Micheli and Paavola were shocked by the attack.

He was one of the nicest, most dedicated human beings,” Randy Rayburn, a Nashville restaurateur and former Paavola client, told the Tennessean. “Joel was one of the most enthusiastic and well-rounded people I’ve ever known in my life.”

Micheli started posting paranoid rants on Facebook after he was fired from the gym, according to WBRC, a Birmingham, Alabama based Fox affiliate. In April, he had an altercation at the White House after refusing to move his vehicle from a checkpoint. It's unclear if he faced criminal charges from the incident.

Micheli will be charged with murder upon his arrest, according to WREG, a Memphis, Tennessee based news station.

[Photo: Nashville Police Department]

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