By Tamara Lush
WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla.: Chad Oulson was described by friends as a man who loved dirt bikes and his baby daughter. Curtis Reeves was a retired Tampa police officer with numerous commendations who liked riding his motorcycle with his wife.
The men’s lives collided Monday in a movie theater altercation that left Oulson dead and Reeves in jail. Oulson was texting his daughter’s day care, friends said, and Reeves got mad. Authorities said Reeves shot and killed Oulson with a handgun after the men exchanged words.
“He must have just snapped,” neighbor Joe D’Andrea said of Reeves, describing him as a friendly, “stand-up” guy. “I’m trying to put all of this together.”
Reeves’ personnel files from the police department show he led other agencies in gun safety training and received numerous letters of commendation for his leadership.
Still, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Tuesday: “It didn’t matter what he had done previously in his life. You don’t shoot someone over a texting incident.”
During Reeves’ first court appearance Tuesday, Judge Lynn Tepper ordered the 71-year-old held without bond on a second-degree murder charge pending a bond hearing.
Pasco County Sheriff’s officials say Reeves initially asked Oulson to stop texting at the theater in Wesley Chapel, a suburb about a half-hour north of downtown Tampa.
Sheriff’s Detective Allen Proctor wrote that Reeves spoke to Oulson during the movie previews, then got up and informed management.
When Reeves returned to his seat “additional words were exchanged” and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, the report said.
After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that’s when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he “was in fear of being attacked.”
Reeves faces life in prison if convicted. His attorney, Richard Escobar, said Reeves was defending himself.
“The alleged victim attacked him,” Escobar said, adding that Oulson threw something, possibly popcorn, at Reeves.