A face full of popcorn, even heavily buttered (or golden topped) and salty popcorn, never warrants a chest full of bullet. But that’s evidently what happened recently in a Florida movie theatre. The reports indicate that what triggered the shooting was one man’s annoyance at another man’s texting. I’m no fan of people texting and messaging during movies, but even I can grasp that we live in a time when many if not most people have no problem with this.
The accused, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, is a retired police officer who at first glance seems to have a stellar record except for a couple of blips: early in his career one supervisor noted that “Reeves has a tendency to be impatient in regards to legal matters and practices now in force … and may be abrupt with complainants in some areas of the city.” Then in 1968 he was reprimanded for carelessly handling a city weapon.
Regardless of his past, his actions in the theatre are what this whole tragedy is about and no matter how good a cop he may have been, Chad Oulson is still dead. His wife still has a hole in her hand from where Reeves’ bullet passed through it on the way to her husband’s chest, but I suspect that’s the least of her troubles.
As a Canadian, way up here in the land of the restricted gun, I can’t help but wonder what the outcome of this sad situation would have been had Reeves not brought a gun to the movie. I imagine he would have been just as peeved with Oulson over the texting and no doubt the argument would have taken place, even the popcorn toss. But the retaliation may have been along the lines of a thrown punch, resulting in a fat lip, not a gun shot leading to a fatality.
I’m sure there will be those who will opine that if Oulson had a gun of his own he could have defended himself against Reeves. But this incident is a lose-lose situation: Oulson is dead and Reeves, after a fine police career, faces a second-degree murder charge.