15 - 01
A text message marked the beginning of another theater shooting saga that ended with one dead and another injured in a Wesley Chapel, Florida Theater on Monday.
The deceased, identified as Mr. Chad Oulson, was seated in front of the suspect, Mr. Curtis Reeves, 71, in the Grove 16 Theater, waiting to see The Lone Survivor, a movie about a failed Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan.
As movie previews rolled on the big screen, Chad Oulson took out his phone to text his daughter’s babysitter. This irked Mr. Reeves, and he told Chad to put his phone away. That sparked off an argument which briefly stopped when Reeves walked off, ostensibly to report Chad to the manager.
According to witnesses, when he did come back, he didn’t have a manager with him; as it so happened, the manager was with another customer and Reeves never got to lodge his complaint. Instead of letting things defuse, Chad confronted Reeves, asking him whether he had reported him to the manager or the staff. While in the midst of this renewed verbal argument, Chad threw a bag of popcorns at Reeves, and that was the trigger that led to Reeves pulling out a .380 semi-auto, firing a single shot that hit Chad’s wife in the hand and fatally wounded Chad.
An off-duty nurse at the site tried all they could to keep Mr. Chad alive but he later succumbed, while an off-duty deputy sheriff disarmed Mr. Reeves.
Reeves currently faces a second-degree murder charge, and has been denied bond as his lawyer’s argument that this was stand your ground defense (a la George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin) was rejected.
This is another unfortunate reminder that movie goers are not offered the protection they deserve, despite the painful lessons that were meant to have been learnt from the Aurora shootings two years ago. Guns are not allowed in most movie theaters, including this one where the shooting occurred. Given that no weapons are allowed within the premises, how is it that this former police officer came to possess a gun inside the theater when an off duty sheriff didn’t?
This is just one of many mysteries that will hopefully be resolved as the case proceeds.
By Matengo Chwanya