Florida Movie Theater Shooting Over Texting During  Previews

We have another senseless act of  gun violence resulting in the death of a father and husband from the fatal shooting.  However, the violence did not occur in somewhere you would normally expect.  It happened in a movie theater.  Over someone texting during the opening previews before a movie.

Retired police officer Curtis Reeves, 71, reportedly shot and killed fellow moviegoer, Chad Oulsen, 43, after the two began arguing over Oulsen texting during the opening previews before the movie.  Reeves requested that Oulsen stop texting, and Oulsen reportedly told the man he was texting his three-year-old daughter and refused to stop texting.  An altercation ensued, resulting in Reeves pulling a firearm and fatally shooting Oulsen.

This shooting happened over a text.

Let that sink in just a little bit.

Yes, we have all been in that situation in a movie theater.  They show the “please silence your cell phones” sign before the movie starts.  Yes, it is annoying when people are on their cell phones during the movie.  However, I do not tend to get too irate when the person is texting with the phone on silent or vibrate.   We do not know whether that was the case, but still.  An appropriate response in this situation would be to tell the staff at the theater.  An appropriate response is not some Wild West shootout, where you end up shooting and  killing someone over something so trivial and ridiculous.

It is sad to read the comments with these accompanying news stories because you get ignorant statements being made on both side of the aisle.  It amazes me the number of people who say “well, he shouldn’t be texting in a theater.” Or the people who question why he was texting his three-year-old and how she could read a text.  I am sorry, but since when does the punishment for breaking a social taboo result in death?  What if he was talking to his wife during the opening credits?  Would that have been worthy of death?  Or, God forbid, someone have a child in the theater that starts crying, momentarily disrupting the moviegoers.

Life is full of annoyances, full of people who do things that are just rude or in bad taste.  I am not saying that his texting was the case, but obviously it was a red-button issue for Reeves.  I have my own list of pet peeves:  people who talk on the phone while in a public bathroom, people who talk on their cell phones as soon as a plane lands before you even get to the gate.  However, I am not about to just lose it over something like that.  A normal reaction would be to just mutter to myself in irritation, or, if it was particularly disruptive, go tell someone who is in charge.  Arguably Reeves should have done just that, but he did not.

Vigilante justice seems to be becoming more of the norm these days in light of the “stand your ground” laws in Florida and the Zimmerman case.  Granted, Reeves was a retired officer so I am sure he was carrying his firearm lawfully, but pulling it on someone who throws popcorn at you because they will not stop texting?  I may not be a police officer, but I am pretty sure that most normal officers would not consider that a threat to their lives.  Maybe it is just me.

Regardless, all that is left here are traumatized individuals who witnessed this awful act, a wife without a husband or father for her children, and a man whose life was cut entirely too short because he was texting when he should not have been.  It just is not right.


Alaina Sullivan

Alaina Sullivan

Alaina Sullivan is an attorney and freelance writer in Indiana. She focuses her legal work on providing free legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney and is passionate in writing about legal issues and news in the non-profit industry.
  • Mahalo

    Tampa Bay PD must really have a low bar for qualifications to be a cop in that city to let this douchebag have a badge and be a law enforcement officer.  Maybe it is his age that made him into an imbecile.  My sympathy is with the father who got shot.  No excuse for this idiot with a loaded gun in the theater.

  • suckerbum

    And to say nothing of how much this is all going to cost us, the taxpayers!

  • ScallywagNYC

    One has to wonder what to make of a former police cop who (incidentally started the Tampa Police Department’s SWAT team) comes to a movie showing with a loaded gun? How much sympathy can Reeves expect to receive from the courts? It’s not like he was on security watch, on duty, protecting his property, reacting to imminent danger (unless loud text noises now constitute imminent threats).

    Then again there is the prevailing view from many that one should be allowed to bear arms at any moment and at any time. Which raises the question do we really want a society where violence is always one argument, misunderstanding, temper tantrum,  one hurt ego away?