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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Crime & Courts

Records: Man in theater shooting also texting

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Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2014 at 07:42 AM

DADE CITY — Moments before engaging in a deadly argument over texting, Curtis Reeves Jr. received and sent a text while seated inside the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre in Wesley Chapel, according to court records.

Reeves, a former Tampa police captain, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the Jan. 13 shooting death of Chad Oulson, 43, of Land O' Lakes.

Reeves remains in the Land O' Lakes jail with no bond. Investigators said Reeves' son, Matthew Reeves, a Tampa police officer, planned to watch the movie with his parents, but was running late because he stopped to wash his truck. He told investigators he sent a text to his father to let him know he was running late.

Curtis Reeves texted his son back about 1:04 p.m. saying he and his wife were already seated inside the theater waiting for the showing of “Lone Survivor.”

Matthew Reeves told investigators when he arrived inside Theater 10, it was already dark and he couldn't find his parents.

A loud “noise” and a flash drew his attention to the top row and he headed in that direction.

“Matthew said he did not see the shot directly, but the noise and light drew his attention to the top row of seats,” Pasco County Sheriff's detective Aaron Smith wrote.

Matthew Reeves said he caught Chad Oulson as he was collapsing. After helping Oulson to the floor, he began to apply pressure to the wound with a T-shirt someone handed him – that's when he finally noticed his parents sitting in the next row.

He told detectives his father had a shocked look on his face.

Matthew Reeves then instructed another bystander to apply pressure, which allowed him to check on his mother. He left the theater and told a theater employee what happened and to call 911. Reeves then went into the kitchen area to wash the blood from his hands.

Nurses in the theater also began trying to help Chad Oulson, who was with his wife, Nicole.

An argument between the two men started after Chad Oulson began texting the babysitter of his young daughter, deputies said.

Investigators said Reeves confronted Oulson and left the theater to complain to the theater's manager about Oulson's texting. Once Reeves returned to his seat, the men exchanged words. Chad Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, investigators said. Moments later, Reeves pulled a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol from his pants pocket and fired one shot into Chad Oulson's chest, according to investigators.

The same bullet pierced the left hand of Chad Oulson's wife, Nicole, whose hand was in front of her husband's chest when the shot was fired.

A judge ruled Wednesday that discovery evidence documents could be released to the public. The documents included work-related background on Reeves, a log of law enforcement members who responded to the scene, as well as numerous statements from witnesses inside Theater 10 at the time of the shooting.

The documents also show both Curtis Reeves and his wife, Vivian, each have concealed carry weapons permits. Vivian Reeves said she “sometimes” carried a gun, while her husband “always carried a gun whenever they went out.”

One witness, sitting in the same row as the Oulsons, said he heard a man say, “Touch me again and I'll kill you.”

Seconds later, a gunshot rang out.

That gunshot sent many people running out of the theater, the documents show. It also detailed some who ran toward the commotion, including Cpl. Alan Hamilton, an off-duty Sumter County sheriff's deputy who had come to see the movie with his wife. Hamilton told investigators he grabbed Reeves' gun.

Another witness, sitting about three rows in front of the shooting incident, told detectives after the shot, a woman screamed, “My finger's been shot off!”

A deputy who arrived several minutes after the shooting entered the theater with his gun drawn, but soon saw Reeves had been secured by several other deputies. After placing his gun in his holster, the deputy turned his attention to Nicole Oulson. He examined her left ring finger, which was shot, but still attached, and wrapped it with a towel, applying pressure until Pasco County Fire Rescue members arrived. Nicole Oulson was then taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa to treat her gunshot wound.

Chad Oulson was taken to Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel where he was pronounced dead at 2:17 p.m. An investigator spoke to a doctor who said Oulson arrived at the hospital without a pulse and the medical staff worked for 35 minutes to revive him, according to the documents.

A surveillance video played during Reeves' second bond hearing in February shows the small flash of an object going toward Reeves.

Reeves' attorneys claim that was the glow from a cellphone Oulson threw at Reeves before the shot was fired. They say Reeves acted in self-defense.

Reeves has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison.

A trial date was expected to be set during a pretrial conference Wednesday, but defense lawyer Dino Michaels asked for more time, noting they were conducting their own investigation and he was part of a June trial in Orlando scheduled to last two weeks.

The two sides will meet in court again on July 9 in an attempt to set a trial date. Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa said he wants the trial to take place this fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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