Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Motorcyclists rally to help family of theater shooting victim Chad Oulson

PORT RICHEY

Many of the folks in leather jackets, jeans and helmets had never met Chad Oulson, the 43-year-old Land O'Lakes man who was killed last month in a movie theater shooting during an argument with a retired police captain over texting.

They didn't know he had no life insurance and had been researching college funds for his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Alexis, in the weeks before he died.

But they knew one thing. Oulson was a biker, and that was all that mattered.

"Motorcycle people are some of the most giving people on the planet," said Denise Mosher, 50, who was about to hop on the back of a blue ultra-classic Harley Davidson Sunday at Oulson's former employer, Sky Powersports on U.S. 19. She and her husband, Chris, have ridden in a host of charity runs, from Toys for Tots to the one in memory of Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old who was abducted from her Citrus County home in 2005 and murdered by a repeat sex offender.

"We always ride for the cause," she said.

The Moshers joined about 1,000 motorcyclists for Sunday's Chad Oulson Memorial Run to help raise money for the family.

Oulson, who worked as Sky Powersports' financial manager, loved dirt bikes and motocross. In addition to his daughter, Oulson also left behind his wife, Nicole. A bullet injured her left ring finger in the shooting on Jan. 13 inside the Cobb Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel.

Authorities say the shooting happened when Curtis Reeves Jr., 71, a retired law enforcement officer and former security director for Busch Gardens, walked into a theater to see a matinee of the movie Lone Survivor. Oulson, who was sitting in front of Reeves, was using his phone to check on his young daughter at day care. Reeves asked him to turn it off and moments later left to complain to management.

He returned alone a few minutes later and the argument continued. Authorities say Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, who then pulled a .380 semiautomatic pistol from his pocket and fired once, hitting Oulson in the chest and injuring his wife.

Reeves' attorneys have said their client was hit in the face by another object, likely Oulson's phone, and acted in self-defense.

Reeves, who was arrested on a second-degree murder charge, was taken to the Pasco County jail, where he has been held without bail. After a two-day bail hearing, Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa ruled Friday that Reeves, who also is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, must stay in jail until his trial.

Days after Oulson's death, friends established a trust fund to help the family. On Sunday, that fund got a boost as bikers made donations to ride from Sky Powersports to the Dunkin' Donuts in Wesley Chapel, where about 20 riders from Lakeland were expected to join the group.

From there, the bikers headed south to Pinellas Park for food, live music and a raffle at Quaker Steak & Lube. Organizers wore bright green shirts with the number 28, the same one Chad Oulson wore in motocross. "Ride in Paradise," the shirts said.

Nicole Oulson and Alexis also were there to greet the bikers, some of whom were from Miami and Pensacola and even Georgia, at the finish line.

Co-workers of Chad Oulson said Nicole Oulson had been touched by all the offers of support.

"She was floored by all of it," said Joe Detrapani.

Oulson's friend, James Warnes, said Oulson was the type of guy who "made a mediocre day better." Oulson was the type of guy, he said, that if the incident had not turned fatal, would have approached Reeves after the movie and offered to buy him a cup of coffee.

"He was just a great guy," he said.

     
 
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