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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Wesley Chapel theater shooting suspect had concealed weapon permit

WESLEY CHAPEL — Curtis Reeves Jr., the retired Tampa police captain accused of killing a man at the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, but taking the gun into the movie violated a Cobb Theatres policy.

The theater chain, based in Birmingham, Ala., has a “zero tolerance” policy for weapons, and signs are placed in the theaters to tell patrons that guns and knives are not allowed, said Molly McFerran, a spokeswoman for Cobb.

“That is on every door as you walk into the building,” she said.

McFerran said the company is “continuing to look at its security procedures.”

“This is something that has never happened in any of their theaters before,” she said.

Not everyone likes the theater’s no-guns policy. Frank Monte, who lives about a mile from the movieplex, brought his 16-year-old daughter to the scene Monday afternoon. He’s a gun advocate and concealed weapon permit holder who said he noticed the “no gun” signs a few weeks ago. He said he carries a 9 mm Beretta handgun.

“It said you can no longer bring weapons into the theater,” Monte said. “I carry everywhere. That’s why I brought my daughter here today, so she’d understand. The reason I carry is for this. As a father, I wanted her to see it.”

The Grove 16 remained closed Tuesday, one day after the shooting, but was tentatively scheduled to reopen today, McFerran said.

“Right now they are still working with authorities,” she said.

Cobb Theatres released a statement Tuesday morning saying the company is “deeply saddened by the events that occurred yesterday, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

“This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly,” the statement said. “The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident.”

Reeves, 71, was arrested after the Monday afternoon shooting on a charge of second-degree murder. Reeves is accused of killing Chad Oulson, 43, of Land O’ Lakes over a dispute that began when Reeves complained about Oulson using his cell phone to text his 3-year-old daughter during previews before a showing of the movie “Lone Survivor,” the sheriff’s office reported.

Oulson’s wife, Nicole, 33, also was shot by the same bullet when she put her hand in front of her husband’s chest just before Reeves pulled the trigger, the sheriff’s office reported.

According to the arrest report, Reeves told a detective that he pulled his .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol out of his pants pocket after Oulson struck him in the face with an “unknown object,” although the sheriff’s investigation didn’t turn up any such object and witnesses said they did not see any punches being thrown, the sheriff’s office reported.

The arrest report did say Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves.

Reeves told the detective that he “was in fear of being attacked,” the report said.

Reporter Laura Kinsler contributed to this article.

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