Police: Texting in Movie Theater Sparks Fatal Shooting

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Photo Credit: Bay News 9 Via CNN

(CNN) — A man was shot dead and his wife wounded after an argument over texting in a movie theater Monday afternoon in Wesley Chapel, Florida, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

The suspect, Curtis Reeves, is a retired Tampa police officer, Nocco said. He will be charged with second-degree homicide, according to Nocco.

Nocco identified the victims as Chad and Nicole Oulson, who he said were sitting in a row in front of another couple. An earlier release from the sheriff’s department said the shooting occurred before a showing of the movie “Lone Survivor.”

“There was an altercation because the victim was using his cell phone. He was texting,” Nocco said. “This led to a verbal altercation, the verbal altercation escalated.”

Reeves pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and as Nicole Oulson raised her hand, the shooter fired once, Nocco said.

A witness said the shooting happened during previews to the movie. Charles Cummings told reporters that Chad Oulson sat two seats from him and his son. Reeves was upset by Oulson’s cell phone use and the two argued, Reeves then got up and left the theater for a brief time, Cummings said.

“He came back very irritated,” Cummings said. Nocco told reporters that the shooter had gone to report the encounter to an employee.

The two men started arguing again and the cell phone user told the other man he was just texting his daughter, Cummings said. A few silent seconds elapsed and the argument started again.

Nocco said Oulson confronted the shooter about going to the theater employee.

Cummings said the argument got louder.

“Their voices started going up. There seemed to almost be a confrontation,” Cummings said. “Somebody throws popcorn; I’m not sure who threw it. And then bang, he was shot.”

The victim staggered over and fell on Cummings and his son. A nurse who was in the theater performed CPR on the victim until the paramedics arrived, said Cummings, who like his son, had spatters of blood on his clothes.

The shooter sat down and put the gun on his lap, and an off-duty deputy from Sumter County who was there to watch the film made sure the shooter didn’t leave.

Nocco said Reeves was at the theater with his wife, and there was no indication that the two couples involved knew each other.

The shooting happened at about 1:30 p.m. inside one of the theaters at the Grove 16 complex, sheriff’s spokeswoman Melanie Snow said.

“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,” Cobb Theatres, which operates the Grove complex, said in a written statement.


  • TDW

    Texting during Previews (which are essentially commercials you can see online, if you’re so interested in them) … and the father of a young child is now dead. Guns don’t kill people, but idiots with guns do.

  • David Staufer

    What happened to the usher? didn’t anyone report this to the front desk that a fight may be breaking out? I didn’t know that Zimmerman was at the theatre. I take it that the shooter will say it was self defence. I could see the guy getting upset if it were during the movie but it was during the previews of up and coming movies. I didn’t know that texting was that loud. The guy must have had his phone on speaker…

    • Seriously?

      Are you kidding me? Why do you need a gun in a theater? Its to defend your self from the idiots of this world. No offence but your left liberal thinking has got to change!? you people are ruining this country.! I can not wait til the media sways away from making guns the demon of society and starts focusing on the mental patients and people who have problems with violence. . A legally armed citizen could have changed this out come.. but yeah you’re right Libby its not possible its a “GUN FREE ZONE”! Wake up fools, you are sheep in this world. Keep being led to the edge, I on the other hand and many others chose to defend ourselves legally and one day i pray you or anyone in any of your families never have to go through a situation similar to this because at that time you will be praying for the armed citizen to protect when the police cant! We are not bad people, We just have common scene in today’s sick world

      • Jujubean

        Hopefully nobody allowed you to have a gun. You need a mental evaluation. Owners like you are easier target, too much talk.

      • nan

        the shooter was a retired police officer, so I’m sure he was carrying his gun legally. You’re right about one thing Seriously, they need to look at the mental aspect of people, before they give them the gun. Texting and thrown popcorn is no reason to shoot someone. this guy was not protecting himself with that gun, so get off of your soap box and chill

  • Dionne

    How sad that something so simple as watching a movie and having a good time comes to this. The officer felt disrespected but thaat is no reason to shoot and kill someone and of course its happened in Florida. where ppl feel that if they dont like something they can just kill.

    • WOW

      The officer felt disrespected?! That doesn’t make him GOD. The guy was texting his daughter, during previews, for goodness sake. The retired cop’s days of playing cowboys and indians should be over. I wonder how many reprimands he has in his file with the police department. The fact that he is a retired cop will be his ticket to getting away with murder…………..literally!

  • Jujubean

    Boomer hate the shooter is clearly once again a confused, old boomer… When will this generation go away….uggg

  • Bru

    Why did the theater not send in an usher immediately when the complaint was made to ask the guy to put away the phone as is theater policy ? Texting is no reason to shoot someone, but people also need to learn some cell phone etiquette.

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