Killed for texting in Florida: What in the wired world is going on?

Charles Cummings, 68, left, and his son Alex, 34, witnessed the shooting inside the Cobb Grove 16 theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Monday.
Charles Cummings, 68, left, and his son Alex, 34, witnessed the shooting inside the Cobb Grove 16 theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Monday.
(Will Vragovic / Associated Press)

Forget it, Jake, it’s Florida. That may be as good an explanation as any to explain the fatal shooting of a (texting) man at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Monday.

But is it really that simple, that random, that inane?

Details are starting to emerge about just how and why retired Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves, 71, allegedly shot and killed fellow moviegoer Chad Oulson, 43. Witnesses describe angry words, apparently sparked by Oulson’s texting during previews before the movie “Lone Survivor,” then thrown popcorn and a single gunshot, followed by the victim’s response: “I can’t believe I got shot.”

Yeah, well, that makes millions of us.


Oh, and just to add to the drama, we may be about to get a replay of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, minus the ugly racial overtones. According to USA Today: “During an interview … and after the former cop was read his Miranda rights, Reeves admitted to firing his weapon at the victim because ‘he was in fear of being attacked,’ according to the police report.

“Reeves told police that Oulson had hit him with what the police report describes as an ‘unknown object.’ ”

Now, it would be silly to take this incident and blow it up into an indictment of Florida, texting, guns or whatever place/cause you happen to be celebrating/vilifying this week.

But let’s do it anyway.

First, Florida. Nope, sorry, I just can’t bash the Sunshine State. Sure, it’s a usually hot and muggy place, and yes, the Tampa area has more than its share of cranky older folks. But really, does anyone think this couldn’t have happened in, say, Des Moines? Me neither.

So, next, texts. Now here’s an area ripe for (excuse the tasteless pun) finger-pointing. Everyone does it, but no one likes it that everyone is doing it. When one person’s wired world collides with another’s sense of common courtesy — well, let’s just say that courtesy is getting its rear kicked these days.

And really, how is that in today’s uber-connected world, somehow we’ve become more disconnected than ever? People can order pizzas on their phones while streaming the latest cat video on YouTube and catching up on the day’s news via Twitter, but they can’t work out a simple disagreement that used to demand only a little common sense and respect for others?

If this is the future of the world, well, I want to get off.


Yet, most folks probably stop short of advocating shooting rude people who won’t stop texting.

Which brings us to guns. Now here’s an easy, uh, target. When a trained, veteran police officer apparently can’t control himself enough not to bring a gun into a movie theater — and then he allegedly uses it to settle an argument over what any sane person would agree is a minor issue — why should we think that a fully armed citizenry makes sense?

I’ll wager that Curtis Reeves certainly wishes he hadn’t brought a gun to that movie theater Monday.

And you can be sure that Chad Oulson’s widow and children feel that way.


So I don’t care what the NRA says. Guns do kill people.


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