Forty-three-year-old Chad Oulson was fatally shot yesterday in a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, apparently because he was texting during the previews before a matinee of the Mark Wahlberg true-life military-action flick Lone Survivor.
Oulson’s wife, Nicole, was also wounded, having placed her hand on him as he was shot, according to Douglas Tobin, a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
The alleged attacker was Curtis Reeves, Jr., 71, a retired police captain. Before leaving the Tampa department in 1993, he was known as a “go-to” guy able to handle any tough situation. He also launched the agency’s Tactical Response Team. Following life in law enforcement, he became director of security at Busch Gardens, a position he left in 2005.
Charles Cummings, a witness to the crime, explained to local news affiliates that Reeves had angrily asked Oulson to put away his phone several times; Oulson said he was texting with his 3-year-old daughter. Reeves left to get a manager but returned without one.
“Three seconds, four seconds later, the argument starts again,” Cummings told reporters. “Their voices start going up; there seems to be almost a confrontation. Somebody throws popcorn, I’m not sure who threw the popcorn, and, bang, he was shot.” CPR from a nurse in the audience proved useless, but an off-duty sheriff’s deputy detained Reeves, who holds hunting licenses going back more than a decade and has since been charged with second-degree murder.
Reeves’s friends seemed aghast and confounded by the killing, especially given that, as a former cop, he knew the legal grounds for use of deadly force. “It must have escalated somehow,” neighbor Martin Mazurek surmised, then vaguely alluding to the “stand your ground” law at the center of the George Zimmerman–Trayvon Martin case: “He must have felt threatened.”
Reeves will appear before a judge at 1:00 this afternoon.