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Retired Officer Who Fatally Shot Man in Movie Theater Breaks Silence on 'Good Morning America'

The case of Chad Oulson

By Rare StoriesPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read

Retired American SWAT commander, 79-year-old Curtis J. Reeves Jr. shot and killed Chad Oulson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran, in a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on January 13, 2014. The shooting took place during the movie previews after an argument erupted between the two men.

Reeves and his wife, Vivien, were sitting in a row behind Chad Oulson and his wife, Nicole, during the preview of the film 'Lone Survivor'.

Chad was messaging his daughter's babysitter

Chad brought out his phone and was messaging someone(this was later revealed to be his two-year-old daughter's babysitter) when Reeves asked him to turn the cell phone off.

The two argued slightly before Reeves left the theater to complain to a theater personnel. When he came back to his seat, they continued arguing. Chad threw popcorn at Reeves, and then he responded by pulling out his handgun and firing a shot at the couple. Chad was fatally shot and the bullet passed through him to hit Nicole's finger.

The crime scene. The popcorn can be seen on the floor.

Chad was rushed to a hospital but died later that day.

Witness Alan Hamilton, an off-duty police officer, reported that Reeves' wife said "That was no cause to shoot anyone", to which Reeves scolded her, raising his finger and telling her to "shut your [expletive] mouth and don't say another word."

Reeves maintained that he killed Chad Oulson because he felt threatened by the younger, more physically fit individual. Several sources indicated that Reeves was also texting during the movie previews, responding to a text from his son.

Legal Battle and Acquittal

Reeves' legal team attempted to use Florida's stand-your-ground law as his defense, claiming that he felt threatened by Oulson's actions. However, this defense was initially rejected by the court.

Stand-your-ground laws, also known as "line in the sand" or "no duty to retreat" laws, allow individuals to use deadly force when they reasonably believe it is necessary to defend against certain violent crimes, as an act of self-defense.

Under these laws, people have no obligation to try to retreat from a situation before using lethal force in self-defense, as long as they are in a location where they have a legal right to be present.

Reeves handcuffed in the movie theater

It wasn't until eight years later, in February 2022, that Reeves was acquitted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. The trial became known as the largest self-defense case in Florida.

Heartbreaking Aftermath

Following the tragic incident, the Oulson Family Foundation was established to provide support for children affected by gun violence. The foundation offers counseling, medical attention, and college tuition assistance to those in need.

Nicole Oulson was hit in the finger after the bullet went through her husband.

Chad Oulson's widow expressed her determination to fight for justice, stating that she would use her voice to ensure that no one else has to go through what her family experienced.

Unapologetic Regrets

In a recent interview, Curtis Reeves expressed that his only regret was not going to another movie show. He defended his actions, claiming that he felt threatened by Oulson's behavior and that the altercation escalated quickly.

Reeves was under house arrest for the majority of the eight years he spent before he was acquitted. He stated that Oulson became confrontational, and started yelling directly in his face after being asked to put away his phone.

'I don't think I've ever had anybody get in my face like that and it scared the crap out of me,' he's heard telling detectives in a recorded 2014 interview. 'I thought the guy was going to beat the hell out of me.'

According to investigators, no other person in the theater reported hearing an argument between the two men or Oulson threatening Reeves.

Reeves stated that he never wanted the incident to happen but believed that he wouldn't be alive today if he hadn't had his gun with him. His wife, Vivien, expressed her prayers for the Oulson family and hoped that Nicole Oulson would find happiness and someone to be a good father to her child.

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