Man fatally shot at Fla. theater over texting

Suspect said he "was in fear of being attacked"
Associated Press
Jan 14, 2014

Chad Oulson was described by friends as a man who loved dirt bikes and his baby daughter. Curtis Reeves was a retired Tampa police officer with numerous commendations who liked riding his motorcycle with his wife.

The men's lives collided in a movie theater altercation that left Oulson dead and Reeves in jail. Oulson was texting his daughter's daycare, friends said, and Reeves got mad.

"He must have just snapped," neighbor Joe D'Andrea said of Reeves, describing him as friendly, "stand-up" guy. "I'm trying to put all of this together."

Reeves' personnel files from the police department show he led other agencies in gun safety training and received numerous letters of commendation for his leadership.

During Reeves' first court appearance Tuesday, Judge Lynn Tepper ordered the 71-year-old held without bond on a second-degree murder charge pending a bond hearing.

Pasco County Sheriff's officials say Reeves initially asked Oulson to stop texting at the theater in Wesley Chapel, a suburb about a half-hour north of downtown Tampa.

Sheriff's Detective Allen Proctor wrote that Reeves spoke to Oulson during the movie previews, then got up and informed management.

When Reeves returned to his seat "additional words were exchanged" and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, the report said.

After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that's when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he "was in fear of being attacked."

Judge Lynn Tepper said she found the evidence significant enough to warrant the no bond order.

Reeves faces life in prison if convicted. He only spoke once during his court appearance, to say "yes, ma'am" to the judge when she asked him if he could afford to hire his own attorney. Reeves, who appeared in court via a video link from the jail, appeared to be wearing a bullet proof vest without a shirt underneath.

Reeves' attorney, Richard Escobar, argued his client should be released because of his deep ties to the community.

Escobar said the probable cause document was "quite weak" and that Reeves was defending himself.

"The alleged victim attacked him," Escobar said, adding that Oulson threw something, possibly popcorn, at Reeves. "At that point in time he has every right to defend himself."

The judge said throwing "an unknown object does not equal taking out a gun" and shooting someone.

Escobar said Reeves has lived in the Tampa Bay area almost his entire life, and he worked at the Tampa Police department from 1973 to 1993, and was a homicide detective and captain during his career. Reeves has two grown children, one a Tampa Police officer.

Reeves' application to join the Tampa Police Department shows that he served in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1963 as a machinists' mate on a submarine. After an honorable discharge, he worked as a truck driver, drove a bucket truck for a telephone company and as a warehouse worker.

As a police officer, Reeves regularly received outstanding evaluations and numerous letters of commendation for his leadership skills and the frequent trainings he led for other agencies on gun safety and other topics. He was lauded for leading the tactical response team for Vice President George H.W. Bush's visit to Tampa in 1987.

He was often praised for his problem solving abilities to manage stressful situations.

"Captain Reeves not only has the ability to act decisively when necessary but has the foresight to initiate the proper course of action to avoid conflict," a supervisor remarked in one job performance review.

However, early in his career, one supervisor noted "Reeves has a tendency to be impatient in regards to legal matters and practices now in force...and may be abrupt with complainants in some areas of the city."

In 1968, he was reprimanded for carelessly handling a city weapon.

Reeves' home in Hernando County lies north of the movie theater. Neighbors said Reeves and his wife moved to the rural subdivision about 10 years ago.

Everyone in the neighborhood knew Reeves was a retired police officer, said D'Andrea, the neighbor.

"He was a stand-up guy in the neighborhood," D'Andrea said. "I would not think he was the type of guy to do something like that."

Reeves and his wife were friendly with the neighbors, often attending house parties, said D'Andrea. The couple also owned a motorcycle and enjoyed taking long rides.

Reeves was instrumental in establishing the Tampa Police Department's first tactical response team, that agency's spokeswoman said. He retired in 1993 and later worked security at the Busch Gardens theme park. He also served on the Crimestoppers board of Hernando County.

D'Andrea said Reeves' experience in law enforcement should have taught him not to pull his weapon in a movie theater.

"It doesn't just affect his life, it affects a lot of people," he said.

Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.

Chad Oulson was the company's finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and "liked" several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.

"They are awesome parents," said Devon Detrapani. "They love that little girl so much."

Detrapani said that Oulson was texting with his daughter's daycare on the afternoon he was shot. She said Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.

"He is a very nice guy," she said. "He would give the shirt off his back to help someone."

Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.

Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids' birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.

"This does not make sense. I don't understand," she said. "It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn't have a husband."

Comments

thinkagain

Good thing a responsible gun owner was carrying a pistol in a No Firearm zone, where he knew he wouldn’t face an armed citizen who could stop him. Because you just never know when you might need to take out someone for texting their 3yr. old daughter…

Of course the victim had just purchased a bag of Skittles at the snack counter, so he was really asking for it….

beepx22

Yeah only cops should carry guns. Oh wait the shooter was a cop...

Uputwhatwhere7

Movie theaters are not a mandatory No Firearms Zone. It's up to the establishment. Even if they have a sign posted it only means that they can ask you to leave. It's idiots like that that obviously have issues. Yeah and he was a cop. Must have been some pretty violent toss with the popcorn to rate a bullet to the chest. He's just a moron.

ladydye_5

I did not know all movie theaters were Gun Free zones? Either way this was just a "pissing contest" between men, that got WAY out of control. I question why the shooter did not just MOVE to a different seat and I also question how/why the father was texting a THREE year old? What was he saying "smiley face"? Was this worth fighting to the death over? BOTH grown men could have made better choices.

1. move to a different seat 2. stop texting, a 3 year old can't read. 3. GROW UP, act like MEN.

eightballcuet1

He was not texting his 3 year old daughter, he was texting his 3 year old daughters day care.

ladydye_5

This story says day care, one report says she was at home with a babysitter. Everything I have heard or read said he was texting the 3 year old, not an adult. Either way does it matter. He was in a movie theater and should have left the room or put the phone away. He also did not deserve to be shot over it.

deertracker

He was texting someone ABOUT his 3 yr. old. Also, the movie had not started yet. Yes, he could have stepped out but there is NO justification for killing the guy. Poor Lexi??? What about Chad? We need stiffer sentences for some of these gun nuts!

Pterocarya frax...

The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a phone is a good guy with a gun.

beepx22

You mean a cop with a gun

dearme

You should not be able to take phones in theaters

tk

I was at a concert at the State theater and a woman in front of me kept angling her phone up and to the side. It was like someone shining a flashlight in my eyes. Not only irritating and distracting but uncomfortable. People can be very provoking and inconsiderate of others. Phones should be off in theaters. I didn't shoot her but can't say I didn't feel like it.

SamAdams

Too many people in theaters are unbelievably rude. They text. They talk on the phone or to the friend sitting next to them. They let their kids behave badly (and noisily). I've even seen some idiots playing GAMES on their cell phones! Theaters say they'll kick people out for behaving like that, but I've yet to see it happen.

I understand the frustration that grows into anger. But my own course of action is to 1. Tell whoever it is to knock it off (unless they scare me), followed by 2. Leave the theater, and tell the manager I want my money back (which will hopefully encourage theater management to actually enforce their own rules).

Yes, I get it. But what has NEVER occurred to me is to throw things, hit somebody, or pull a firearm! "Rude" is, well, rude. But it's not a capital crime! As much as I support the idea of firearms for self defense — and make no mistake, I do, and in the strongest possible terms — this was a murder, plain and simple. The shooter deserves to get everything that's coming to him and then some.

Contango

From my understanding the charge is second degree murder, which in FL is a max. thirty yr. sentence.

-------------------

Re: "Reeves spoke to Oulson during the movie previews, then got up and informed management."

And mgmt's response was what?

SamAdams

Apparently, the management response was the TYPICAL response: Nothing. That's why I don't bother to complain. I just demand my money back. Hit 'em where it matters, eh?

candleburner

It doesn't matter if the guy was texting to the child or texting to the child's caregiver, he still didn't deserve to lose his life over it. What bothers me is that these guys were friends and if I'm reading this correctly co-workers but the older guy got up and told the manager that there was a problem and instead of letting them take care of it or see if he would stop once the movie would start - I mean aren't the previews kind of like the time you can get your popcorn and drinks anyway - or just move if it was really that big of a problem. Makes me wonder what kind of a police officer he was to be honest. He pulls someone over for a minor traffic violation and they don't pull their license out fast enough and BAM! Either way, 2 families are forever changed because this moron decided to take a gun to a movie

sash

The men didn't know each other or work together. Other sources say Reeve left to complain to management, but manager was dealing with another customer so he returned to theater without speaking to manager. Too impatient and hot tempered to deal with the situation like an adult.

Kottage Kat

I just read the book, it's much safer.

Donegan

I wonder if he will get off. Cops are allowed to beat unarmed homeless people to death it seems, I Wonder if shooting texters in movie theaters but retired cops will end up the same.
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