Monday, August 20, 2018
Public safety

Texting argument leaves one dead, another hurt in movie theater shooting

WESLEY CHAPEL — Charles Cummings and his son, Alex, settled into their seats at the Cobb Grove 16 Monday for the 1:20 p.m. showing of Lone Survivor.

During the previews, a man sitting two seats away texted noisily on his phone. The man behind him, retired Tampa police officer Curtis Reeves Jr., asked him to stop several times.

Reeves left for a few minutes and returned. An argument erupted. Popcorn flew. Then, authorities said, Reeves pulled out a pistol and fired at the man.

Chad Oulson, who had told the gunman he was sending text messages to his young daughter, responded with shock.

"He said, 'I can't believe I got shot,' " Alex Cummings recalled. "There was a lot of confusion."

Two other patrons, both nurses, tried to revive Oulson with CPR, said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Oulson, 43, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

His wife, Nicole, 33, who raised her hand to try to block the bullet, was taken to a hospital and was treated for hand injuries.

Immediately after firing, Reeves, 71, put his .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol on his right thigh, Nocco said. An off-duty Sumter County sheriff's deputy, also there to see the film about four Navy SEALs on a mission in Afghanistan, secured the weapon and made sure Reeves stayed put until deputies arrived. Nocco did not say whether the deputy was armed.

"He ran into the hot zone," said Nocco, who described the unnamed deputy as a "hero."

Reeves was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Nocco said 25 people were in auditorium 10 when the shooting happened about 1:30 p.m. Reeves' wife was with him during the shooting but was not involved.

"To have a retired police officer — I don't know what he was thinking at the time," Nocco said.

He said the initial call sounded "scary," and similar to random movie theater shootings.

"We were prepared for a large situation," he said.

Nocco said Reeves and Oulson had never met before.

"Fate brought these two people together," he said. "This was ridiculous."

Chad and Nicole Oulson lived in Connerton, a sprawling, well-kept suburban community off U.S. 41 in Land O'Lakes. They moved there about three years ago, said neighbor Saverio Mongelli, because it was halfway between both their jobs. Nicole Oulson works at USAA in New Tampa; Chad Oulson worked at Sky Powersports, an ATV and personal watercraft dealership in Port Richey. His usual days off were Sundays and Mondays.

This week, Nicole took Monday off so she and her husband could go on a date. They put their 22-month-old daughter, Alexi, in day care and went to the movies.

"He was a good, genuine person. I cannot believe this happened. He was just a funny guy," said Mongelli.

Tampa resident Casey Steege, a friend of 10 years, rented a room from the couple until just before their daughter was born in 2012.

Oulson worked hard and played hard, Steege said. He rode dirt bikes and liked to run his Baja speedboat down the Intracoastal Waterway to Clearwater Beach to have lunch at Frenchy's or Shepherd's and play on the sandbar.

"He brought life into every room. He was a big guy, a big character,'' Steege said.

Joseph Detrapani, another neighbor, said he couldn't believe Oulson's life ended in such a violent way. "He doesn't carry weapons, and he doesn't hold weapons."

Nocco said investigators looked into whether the shooting could be justified under the state's stand your ground law that allows a person to use deadly force if they feel threatened.

"It was not proven to us that it was a stand your ground incident," he said.

Theater patrons were evacuated after the shooting. Cobb Theatres' website said it would be closed until further notice.

"We hope and pray it will reopen by the end of the week," said Cobb spokeswoman Molly McFerran. She said a weapons ban had been in place at the theater since October 2012.

Charles Cummings, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran who left the theater with Oulson's blood on his clothes, said he was shocked and saddened by the incident, which took place on his 68th birthday.

"I can't believe anybody would bring a gun to a movie," he said.

Times staff writers Stephen Nohlgren, Arleen Spenceley and Rich Shopes and news researchers John Martin and Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

     
             
Comments
North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — Two men on the run from law enforcement in North Carolina were found hiding in Treasure Island — armed with an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb, deputies said — leading to a standoff with a SWAT team that ended early Sunday morning....
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was the first song Lillia Raubenolt’s parents sang to her as a newborn, according to her uncle, John Reisinger."They were just so happy when she was born," he said.But on May 23, while the family was visiting Tampa from Ohi...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

A man has been airlifted to a local hospital after suffering severe electrical burns while trimming trees in Spring Hill.In a release, Pasco County Fire Rescue said the man was working on a lift and was airborne in the 18000 Block of Skinner Dr. in S...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Clearwater police: Truck flips on U.S. 19, killing 40-year-old driver

Clearwater police: Truck flips on U.S. 19, killing 40-year-old driver

CLEARWATER — A 40-year-old man died after flipping his truck on U.S. 19 early Sunday morning, police reported.About 3:02 a.m., Michael Bellavia, 40, of Clearwater, was heading northbound on the highway, exiting at NE Coachman Road, according to the ...
Published: 08/19/18
Police: Driver, 26, goes wrong way on Courtney Campbell, dies after car flips into water

Police: Driver, 26, goes wrong way on Courtney Campbell, dies after car flips into water

CLEARWATER — A 26-year-old died after heading the wrong way on the Courtney Campbell Causeway and falling into the water early Sunday morning, police reported.About 4:13 a.m., Scott Anthony Wolf, 26, of Lee County, was driving a 2004 Chrysler Crossfi...
Published: 08/19/18
Girl, 6, found slain in her Albuquerque-area home has connections to Wimauma

Girl, 6, found slain in her Albuquerque-area home has connections to Wimauma

The family of a 6-year-old girl found dead in New Mexico last weekend is trying to bring her remains to Wimauma.Court documents say the body of Ariana "Jade" Romeo was found at her home in Rio Rancho north of Albuquerque on bloody sheets with marijua...
Published: 08/18/18
Updated: 08/19/18
Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

LARGO — A man faces a charge of murder after firing a shot at his girlfriend as she visited a travel trailer in Largo, fleeing the scene, then returning to the trailer and shooting her again a number of times, deputies said.Nathaniel J. Yates, 32, o...
Published: 08/18/18
Deputies find body in burning vehicle near Disney World miniature golf course

Deputies find body in burning vehicle near Disney World miniature golf course

A body was found in a burning vehicle near a Disney World miniature golf course early Saturday, according to WKMG News 6 Orlando.Authorities were initially called to a vehicle fire about 4 a.m. at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, 120...
Published: 08/18/18
Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested, too, in aftermath of Hudson drug shootout

Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested, too, in aftermath of Hudson drug shootout

HUDSON — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office made a second arrest Saturday in the aftermath of a drug-related shootout Wednesday night that left one man dead and a woman critically injured.Deputies arrested Alexas Marie Gregas, 19, of Hudson, on charge...
Published: 08/18/18
Levy County man, 53, killed trying to pass truck north of Inverness

Levy County man, 53, killed trying to pass truck north of Inverness

INVERNESS — A 53-year-old Levy County man died when he collided with a Mack truck while trying to pass it north of Inverness, the Florida Highway Patrol said.Claude Pepper Blount Jr. was headed south on U.S. 41 near Overdrive Circle about 1:50 p.m. F...
Published: 08/18/18