A man was shot dead and his wife was injured following an argument over texting during the previews with a fellow moviegoer in the seat behind at a cinema in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on January 14, 2014.
According to witnesses the two men argued several times and the man who was texting watched as the other man walked out of the theatre, presumably to file a complaint with a member of the staff.
He returned shortly after and was apparently very upset. The victim and the suspect argued once more, popcorn was thrown, then Curtis Reeves, 71, a retired police officer, pulled out a .380 and shot Chad Oulson, 43, in the chest.
Oulson’s wife Nicole had her hand on her husband’s chest when the shot rang out and was wounded.
Off-duty deputy sheriff Charles Cummings was among the 25 people in the theatre and he sprung into action to prevent Reeves from firing any more shots and made sure he stayed in his seat until arresting officers arrived at the scene.
Two nurses also happened to be in the small crowd and they started performing CPR on Oulson while they waited for paramedics, but his life could not be saved.
“I can’t believe people would bring a pistol to a movie,” said Cummings. “I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.”
The argument started during the previews of the movie ‘Lone Survivor’ when Oulson was texting with his 3-year-old daughter. Apparently the phone was making enough noise to trigger a reaction from Reeves who was sitting nearby in the row behind.
Reeves, who was also accompanied by his wife, was arrested on the scene and has been charged with second-degree murder.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told a small press conference outside the cinema that when he first heard about the shooting in the theatre his first reaction was to think the worst.
“It’s absolutely crazy it would rise to this level over somebody just texting in a movie theatre,” Nocco added.
Cobb Theaters released a statement later in the afternoon: “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.”