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 who liked riding his motorcycle with his wife and was once on his county’s Crimestoppers board of directors.
The men’s lives collided in a movie theater altercation that left Oulson dead and Reeves in jail. Oulson was texting his daughter’s daycare, friends said, and Reeves got mad.
“He must have just snapped,” neighbor Joe D’Andrea said of Reeves, describing him as friendly, “stand-up” guy. “I’m trying to put all of this together.”
During Reeves’ first court appearance Tuesday, Judge Lynn Tepper ordered that the 71-year-old be held without bond on a second-degree murder charge.
Reeves’ attorney, Richard Escobar, argued that his client should be released because of his deep ties to the community.
Escobar said that he found the Sheriff’s Office probable cause document to be “quite weak” and that Reeves was defending himself from Oulson.
“The alleged victim attacked him,” Escobar said, adding that Oulson threw something, possibly popcorn, at Reeves. “At that point in time he has every right to defend himself.”
Judge Tepper said that throwing “an unknown object does not equal taking out a gun” and shooting someone.
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 from his seat 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.”
Judge Tepper said she found the evidence from Monday’s shooting “significant” enough to warrant no bond on the second-degree murder charge. A bond hearing will be scheduled in the coming days.