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Florida cinema shooting: Man who killed texter had been texting, too

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Andy Jones/The Tampa Tribune/AP/File

(Read caption) Curtis Reeves, here at a bond hearing in Dade City, Fla., on Feb. 5, reportedly shot a man in a movie theater on Jan. 13, because he was texting. He is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Chad Oulson.

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Curtis Reeves’s son was late. So, at 1:04 p.m. on Jan. 13, Mr. Reeves, a retired police officer, sent his son a text, telling him that he and his wife had gone into the movie theater and were seated.

Not so unusual – except that, just minutes later, Reeves shot to death another theatergoer when the man refused to stop texting during the movie previews.

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Reeves's son, Matthew Reeves, told investigators that his father had replied to his text that he was late to meet them at the 1:20 p.m. showing of "Lone Survivor," after he stopped to wash his truck, according to documents released Thursday by Florida prosecutors and obtained by the Associated Press. His father had replied that he and his wife were seated.

When Matthew did walk into the theater, about 15 minutes later, he saw the light and heard the sound of the gunshot that killed Chad Oulsen, who was sitting with his wife and had been texting the babysitter watching his young daughter while waiting for the movie to begin, according to investigators quoted in The Tampa Bay Times. Matthew had rushed to use a bystander’s shirt to stop the blood flow from the wounded man and had looked up to see his father, standing in the theater’s back row, looking shocked, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Reeves faces charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery and has pleaded not guilty to both counts. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Reeves's attorneys have said that he acted in self-defense and cite Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, which nulls a person’s obligation to retreat if they feel that they are in danger. Reeves told police that Mr. Oulson had punched him, according to AP.

Other witnesses, though, including Oulson’s wife, dispute that narrative, saying that Oulson did not strike Reeves but had tossed popcorn at him.