A retired police captain killed one man and injured the victim’s wife at a Florida movie theater after an argument sparked by texting. Previews during a showing of Lone Survivor had just begun Monday afternoon at the Grove 16 theater in Wesley Chapel when 71-year-old Curtis Reeves became irritated at a man in front of him who was using his cellphone. The verbal squabble quickly escalated, culminating with a fatal gunshot.
Police say the former cop asked the victim, 43-year-old Chad Oulson, and his wife, Nichole, to stop texting, making the request several times. Reeves, who was also with his wife, left the theater to get a manager, but returned without one. Ouslon told him he was texting his three-year-old daughter, according to witnesses, but the argument between the two couples continued. Popcorn was thrown, then Reeves pulled out his pistol.
Oulson's wife attempted to shield her husband from the weapon and Reeves fired, injuring her hand and hitting Chad in the chest. The victim fell onto a pair of moviegoers, blood spilling out of his mouth. An off-duty deputy detained Reeves and took his weapon while waiting for police response.
Witness Charles Cummings just wanted to watch Lone Survivor for his birthday and left the theater covered in blood. His son called 911 immediately after the incident while a nurse in the audience attempted CPR.
I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie. I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.
The incident is a scene all too familiar in American theaters, where the sounds of shots fired aren't just from the movies. Cue the never-ending gun control debate.
Chad died of his injuries after being taken to a Tampa-area hospital. Reeves, who retired from the Tampa Police Department in 1993, was charged with second-degree murder.
Cobb Theatres issued a statement Monday, saying they are working with the Pasco County Sheriff's office to investigate.
We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred earlier today at Cobb Grove 16, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The theatre is currently closed, and we are actively working with the sheriff’s office on this investigation. This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly. The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident.