Wesley Chapel, FL – A retired police captain has been arrested after he shot and killed a man inside a Florida theater during an argument that started over the victim’s texting before a showing of Lone Survivor.
According to police, the incident happened at the Cobb CineBistro at Grove 16 complex a little after 1 p.m. Monday. The movie hadn’t started yet, but 71-year-old Curtis Reeves was getting aggravated with another patron, 43-year-old Chad Oulson, who was sitting in front of him with his wife.
According to witnesses, an argument started between the two men regarding Oulson’s texting. After asking Oulson to stop several times, Reeves left the theater to complain to staff. When he returned, the two men began arguing again.
After Oulson explained he was simply texting his 3-year-old daughter, one of the men threw popcorn at the other before Reeves pulled out a .380 caliber handgun and shot Oulson once in the chest. Oulson’s wife was also wounded by the same bullet after trying to tried shield her husband with her hand.
“I heard the victim say, ‘I can’t believe…,’ then he fell on us,” said 68-year-old Charles Cummings, who was in the theater with his son. “I asked if the guy was OK, and he started gurgling blood and then fell,” said Cummings’ son.
After the shooting, Reeves sat down and placed the gun on his lap. An off-duty Sumter County deputy inside the theater confiscated the gun and detained Reeves until police arrived. Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Tampa police issued a statement shortly after he was arrested, stating he retired in 1993. “He was instrumental in establishing the department’s first Tactical Response Team,” said the statement. “We are not aware of any contact with the department since his departure more than 20 years ago.”
The theater was immediately evacuated after the shooting and issued the following statement later that day:
“We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred earlier today, 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.”
I don’t agree with Reeves shooting Oulson to death over texting inside a theater, but Lord knows I’ve fantasized about doing something similar. I know some of you feel that it’s perfectly ok to talk and text during the trailers. But goddammit, I paid $20 dollars to watch the movie without rude distractions, and that includes the trailers – all 15 of them.