Man shot dead for texting in US cinema

Texting at movies upsets many people, but a retired cop in Florida was so incensed he pulled out a gun


A MAN who used his phone to send text messages in a cinema in Florida has been shot dead by a retired police officer.

Curtis Reeves Jr, 71, reportedly turned his gun on 43-year-old Chad Oulson and his wife, Nichole, during a screening of the Mark Wahlberg thriller /Lone Survivor/. The retired cop was reportedly incensed that the couple, who were sitting in the row in front of him, were using their phones to send SMS messages.

Chad Oulson was shot in the chest and died at hospital. His wife was shot in the hand by a bullet from the .380-calibre pistol and was treated for "non-life-threatening" injuries, NBC News reports.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said he was still struggling to make sense of the incident. "To have a retired police officer – I don't know what he was thinking at the time," Nocco told NBC. "This situation over a cellphone use – to escalate that high, I can tell you it's very scary."

The incident could have been even more serious if Reeves hadn't been tackled by an off-duty sheriff's deputy who was also watching the movie. He "secured" the weapon and detained Reeves, Nocco said.

"He was a true hero in there. He reacted," said Nocco, who also praised the efforts of two nurses who were in the cinema and tried to save Oulson's life.

The incident began as the preview trailers were being shown at the Grove 16 Theatre in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa. Reeves asked Oulson and his wife several times to stop texting, but they refused. The retired officer then left his seat and complained to a manager.

When he returned to the cinema, Oulson "confronted him verbally" Nocco said, saying: "Oh, did you go in there and start complaining on me? Did you tell the staff about me?"

The altercation became physical, at which point Reeves produced a gun. Only one shot was fired: Nichole Oulson was reportedly wounded in the hand by the same bullet that killed her husband.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.