Curtis Reeves, a 71-year-old former Tampa police officer, shot and killed a man this afternoon inside a Tampa movie theatre, reportedly over a texting argument. It happened during a showing of Lone Survivor at the Cobb Cine Bistro in a Tampa suburb called Wesley Chapel. The victim has been identified as Chad Oulson, a husband and father who reportedly had explained to Reeves that he was texting his three-year-old daughter. Oulson’s wife Nicole was also shot but only in the hand — i.e., not fatally.
A local news report includes the following (and this is the key thing): “A witness recalled seeing [Reeves] get up and leave in an apparent attempt to find a manager. When he came back alone, the argument escalated.” In other words, if a theatre manager had calmly but firmly intervened and insisted that Oulson stop texting (or that he needed to text from the lobby), it’s entirely possible that Reeves would have felt placated and wouldn’t have shot Oulson.
I blame Reeves, of course — this was obviously the act of an unstable personality. But the errant manager of the Cobb Cine Bistro, I feel, bears a portion of the responsibility.
Management never gets involved in these matters. Talkers, texters, bellowing apes…managers are always unavailable. They always chicken out, hiding in their offices, “busy,” etc. Movie theatres have become chaotic, emotionally dangerous environments to some extent. Handguns, cell phones, hair-trigger rage…it’s Dodge City out there. I know — last month I dealt with an asshole who wouldn’t shut up during a screening of The Wolf of Wall Street, and all I did was stare at the guy and he was thisclose to starting something with me.
This was a problem from the get-go because it was a generational dispute — Reeves is retired (probably in his late 60s or early 70s) and Oulson, the father of a three-year-old, was presumably fairly young — a member of the texting generation who probably had a comme ci comme ca attitude. And then along came Dirty Harry — a conservative man who undoubtedly felt that that Oulson was being unconscionably selfish and violating his rights as a moviegoer, and who couldn’t hold it together. And who was packing.
The truth? Oulson was being unconscionably selfish and violating Reeves’ rights as a moviegoer. He obviously didn’t deserve to die for texting, but you can’t say he didn’t at least flirt with the possibility of trouble by doing so.
“Charles Cummings told FOX 13 he heard the victim say he was texting his 3-year-old daughter before Reeves pulled out a pistol. ‘Their voices start going up, there seems to be a confrontation, somebody throws popcorn, then bang, he was shot,’ said Cummings, who was there to celebrate his birthday. ‘I heard the victim say, ‘I can’t believe…’ then he fell on us.”
“‘I asked if the guy was OK, and he started gurgling blood and then fell,’ recalled Cummings’ son, who said he ran to call 911.”
Observation About Above Video: Father and son in baseball caps — a mark of rural-ness. Charles Cummings, a heavy-set, decent-sounding fella, is doing the talking while his son with the yellow T-shirt is standing to the side…chewing gum. He’s on camera, a big moment, being seen by millions…and he doesn’t get that chewing gum makes him look like a total yokel. Oh, I get it — the son was nervous about having been through a shooting and he needed to chew gum to calm himself down.