Prosecutors in the case are saying that the shooting that left one man dead and his wife injured at a Florida movie theater this week was not the first confrontation that the accused shooter, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, had engaged in over the issue of cell phone use during a film.
According to prosecutors at Reeves’ Tuesday court appearance, a woman named Jamira Dixon also had a run-in with Reeves at the Wesley Chapel, Florida theater. Approximately three weeks prior to the shooting incident, Reeves reportedly “glared” at Dixon throughout an entire movie after having witnessed her texting on her cell phone. Prosecutors say that at one point during the movie Dixon left the theater to use the restroom, and Reeves went so far as to follow her, making her feel “very uncomfortable.”
In a follow-up interview, Dixon said that Reeves was just extremely upset about the situation. She says that when she heard about the fatal shooting she realized how “close to home” it was and thought “it could have been us.”
Despite this report of a previous confrontation, friends and neighbors of the accused Reeves are reportedly stunned by the news that he could have been the Florida movie theater shooter. They describe him as “friendly” and “nice.” One neighbor said that Reeves was “always smiling” and was “very helpful” and added that he had never seen Reeves angry in the years that they had leaved nearby. Another described him as “a good Christian and a loving grandfather.”
Likewise, the Tampa Police Department, from which Reeves retired in 1993, says he had a “praiseworthy” career. His service record reportedly includes accolades for “his problem-solving and ability to manage stressful situations,” as well as many outstanding performance reviews. Notably, he also conducted gun safety training during his career. His employment record reportedly revealed only one notation that Reeves had ever had any issues with his temper. That mention was in 1979 and was in reference to dealings with his superior officers. Nonetheless Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said what many are surely thinking: “It didn’t matter what he had done previously in his life. You don’t shoot someone over a texting incident.”
The shooting occurred on Monday afternoon at the Grove 16 movie theater complex in Wesley Chapel, Florida. It happened during the previews to an afternoon showing of the latest Mark Wahlberg action film, Lone Survivor, attended by approximately 25 patrons.
Witnesses have reported that an argument broke out between the fatally shot victim, 43-year-old Chad Oulsen and Reeves after Oulsen was texting with his young daughter’s babysitter. The argument reportedly became extremely heated and ultimately resulted in Reeves shooting Oulsen in the chest with a .380 caliber handgun. Oulsen’s wife Nicole was also shot in the hand.
During Reeves’ first court appearance on Tuesday, his attorney tried to claim that the accused Reeves feared for his own safety and that he had been the victim of an attack at the Florida movie theater as Oulsen had reportedly thrown a bag of popcorn at him. His attorney argued that Florida’s “stand your ground” defense should apply as Reeves was not the initial aggressor in the confrontation that ultimately led to the shooting. Circuit Court Judge Lynn Tepper was not convinced. Judge Tepper denied bond for Reeves as well.
By Michele Wessel