Retired officer shot 2 people, 1 fatally, at movie theatre

An argument over texting in a Florida movie theatre Monday triggered a retired Tampa police captain to fatally shoot a man sitting in front of him

An argument over texting in a Florida movie theatre Monday triggered a retired Tampa police captain to fatally shoot a man sitting in front of him, as about 25 horrified moviegoers looked on, sheriff's officials said.

"Somebody throws popcorn. I'm not sure who threw the popcorn," said Charles Cummings, who, as a birthday treat, was about to watch the movie "Lone Survivor" at The Grove 16 Theater.

"And then bang, he was shot."

Curtis Reeves, 71, has been charged with second-degree murder and it's not immediately clear whether he has retained an attorney.

Pasco County Sheriff's officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked 43-year-old Chad Oulson to stop texting at the theatre in Wesley Chapel, a suburb about a half hour north of downtown Tampa.

Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Oulson and his wife. Oulson told Reeves that he was texting with his 3-year-old daughter, Cummings said.

"It ended almost as quickly as it started," said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin. The sheriff's office says an off-duty Sumter County deputy detained Reeves until police arrived.

Cummings and his son Alex — who both had blood on their clothes as they walked out of the theatre — told a group of reporters Monday afternoon that the show was still in previews when the two couples started arguing.

Cummings said the man in the back row — later identified as Reeves — got up and left the auditorium, presumably to get a manager. But he came back after a few minutes, without a manager and appearing upset. Moments later, the argument between the two men resumed, and the man in the front row stood up.

Officials said Oulson asked Reeves if he reported him to management for using his phone.

Cummings said the men started raising their voices and popcorn was thrown. Authorities said Reeves took out a gun, and Oulson's wife put her hand over her husband, and that's when Reeves fired his weapon, striking Nichole Oulson in the hand and her husband in the chest.

"I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie," Cummings said. "I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone."

Cummings, who said he was a combat Marine in Vietnam, said Oulson fell onto him and his son.

"Blood started coming out of his mouth," said Alex Cummings. "It was just a very bad scene."

Charles Cummings said his son went to call 911, while Cummings and another patron who claimed to a nurse began performing CPR on the victim.

A man sitting next to the shooter grabbed the gun out of his hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Cummings said.

Oulson and his wife were taken by ambulance to a Tampa-area hospital, where the Chad Oulson died, Tobin said. His wife's injuries weren't considered life-threatening.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said in a news release that Reeves was a captain when he retired from the department in 1993. She added that he was instrumental in establishing the agency's first tactical response team. After he retired, Reeves worked security for the Busch Gardens theme park and was on the board of a neighbouring county's Crime Stoppers organization. Reeves' son also is a Tampa officer, police said.

Tamara Lush

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  1. Peter posted on 01/14/2014 03:54 PM
    I'm not defending the shooter, but texting in a movie theater ruins the movie going experience. You paid your money, and it's as if a stranger is robbing you of your purchase.
    The texting causes small annoying, distracting flashes of light in your vision when trying to watch the movie screen.

    What a poor sole someone is to keep checking their phone every 5 minutes during a movie theatre show. Same on a golf course, sorry poor soles.

    I suspect if more people wore guns, there would have been more incidents like this where gunslinger meets robber.

    Also, if you're in prison, do not whistle to pass the time.

    One more thing: To Newstalk 1010
    I like the home address number version of capcha rather than the contorted unreadable twisted letters. They're unnecessarily puzzling.
    1. john posted on 01/15/2014 11:14 AM
      @Peter some people talk about a software that helps with the capita thing personally i dont see a need for them . i would neve put them in if i had a website .
  2. john posted on 01/15/2014 11:12 AM
    it was during the prevue part he was texting not during the movie . i use my phone during the prevue cause most of it is crap . to me romantic movies are boring .
  3. nancy posted on 01/15/2014 01:26 PM
    there were only 25 people in the God's name, why didn't someone just get up and move.
    This is SO SAD............The victim had a 3 year old tragic.
  4. Frankie posted on 01/15/2014 02:14 PM
    Very sad. If this happened in Caledonia with a native shooter and a non-native texter nothing would happen to the shooter, thanks to Dalton McChicken and his merry band of Liberals.
  5. Angry Bill posted on 01/15/2014 04:15 PM
    Sometimes I feel like shooting some idiot who has his cell phone out during a movie. But, this wasn't even during the movie, it was before.

    The story says the retired sheriff left the theater and came back upset.. it doesn't say what happened, but I'm guessing he went to complain and the pimply faced teen that was on duty probably told him to suck it up.

    Was shooting the silly bugger with the cell phone warranted? No. Would the retired sheriff have shot him if he was younger, instead of 71? I don't think so.

    When people are elderly, they sometimes tend to lose certain inhibitions. We've all seen it. You see some stupid looking kid walk past you with his pants below his arse, and most people just shake their heads and think to themselves how stupid that kid looks.. but when you're older, you sometimes lose the inhibition that keeps you silent.. an older person will say something out loud, sometimes not even aware that other people can hear him.

    Likewise, most people while WANTING to be able to shoot the annoying person with the cell phone, have this inhibition in their brain that keeps them from doing so. As you get older, you tend to lose that sort of inhibition. There have been studies on the elderly that document this process of degradation in the brain.

    I'm just guessing, but in my opinion, this might be a contributing factor as to why he did it.
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