Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Autopsy report indicates movie theater shooting victim raised his hand before gun was fired

The bullet fired into the chest of the man who died inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater last month also grazed his right hand, indicating the victim might have raised it at the moment he was shot, according to the autopsy report released Wednesday.

Chad Oulson was shot inside the Grove Cobb 16 theater Jan. 13 in what authorities described as an argument over texting. Curtis Reeves Jr., a 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain, became agitated about the texting, authorities say, and shot Oulson as the argument escalated. Reeves is charged with second-degree murder.

"The paths of the two gunshot wounds correspond when the right hand/wrist is held in front of the thorax and likely represent the path of a single bullet," noted chief medical examiner Jon Thogmartin, whose staff examined the body of Oulson, 43. The report also mentions unburned powder and debris found on the back of Oulson's right hand.

The autopsy report appears to corroborate an enhanced surveillance video taken from inside auditorium 10, where the shooting took place. In the video, Reeves leans forward in his seat, then Oulson's hand extends across the chair, just barely entering the video clip, and dumps something in Reeves' lap. (Witnesses say they saw Oulson throw popcorn at Reeves.) Without pause, Reeves reaches his right hand forward and fires, the muzzle flash bursting outside the camera's frame.

Witnesses in the dimly lit theater said they heard words exchanged but did not see any physical contact between the two men. But Reeves told sheriff's detectives shortly after the shooting that something struck him in the face, knocking his glasses crooked. His legal team has said he acted in self defense.

Reeves' attorney, Richard Escobar, declined to comment on the report. However, he told reporters after a judge denied bail on Friday that the facts would ultimately exonerate his client and urged reporters to seek experts' opinion on the video.

"Don't rush to judgment," Escobar said last week.

Prosecutors did not return calls for comment.

The autopsy report also says Oulson was shot in the left side of his chest, with the bullet perforating the fourth left rib and piercing his heart. Examiners removed a yellow metal bullet jacket from the base of his heart and a lead fragment from his right lung.

Autopsy report indicates movie theater shooting victim raised his hand before gun was fired 02/12/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    President Donald Trump on Monday condemned the fatal stabbing of two good Samaritans trying to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade on a Portland, Ore., light rail train.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  2. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  3. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  4. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  5. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …