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by Indiewire
January 13, 2014 6:26 PM
29 Comments
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Texting During a Movie Turned Deadly in Tragic Movie Theater Incident in Florida

Texting during movies has been a hotly debated topic in film circles, but today the issue turned deadly serious when a dispute over cellphone use at a Florida theater led to one man being fatally shot and a woman seriously wounded, according to a report from CNN.

The argument reportedly broke out before a screening of "Lone Survivor" at The Grove 16 Theater in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa, when the suspect and his wife complained to the couple in front of them about their cell phone usage.

"There was an altercation because the victim was using his cell phone. He was texting. He was making a lot of noise," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told CNN. "This led to a verbal altercation, the verbal altercation escalated." The suspect. a retired police officer, pulled out a handgun and shot the two victims. He was detained at the theater until the police arrived.

"This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly. The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident," Cobb Theatres, which operates the Grove complex, said in a written statement.

The issue of texting during movies has been a sore point among moviegoers for some time now. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Austin-based theater chain kicked out a patron for texting during a movie and went on to produce a series of PSAs urging moviegoers to refrain from using their mobile devices when the lights are down.

"This is a tragedy, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims' families," said Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in a statement.


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29 Comments

  • Edward Copeland | January 15, 2014 3:59 PMReply

    How about metal detectors at the door, not just for any possible firearms but for phones themselves. People can their communication devices outside the theater and get a receipt (like the days of coat or hat checks). If they feel their lives are so important that they can't be separated from their precious texting devices, they shouldn't be wasting time seeing a damn movie anyway. It's tragic that the victims belonged to the ever-shrinking band of citizens who understand proper etiquette instead of the ever-growing group who believes any space they occupy gives them carte blanche to act like rude behemoths to everyone around them.

  • TrustmeImaDocta | January 15, 2014 8:38 AMReply

    Right, blame the gun. Not the fact that an over-zealous idiot who was a former cop, trained on proper procedure, and so much more wasn't properly psychologically evaluated. Blame the lack of a mental health care program in America, lunatics will attack with anything they can, knife, gun, rock, fist, ect. Actually fix the mental health program then see what happens.

  • AdrianLesher | January 14, 2014 10:58 PMReply

    It's not a a "tragic incident," it's a murder made more likely by Florida's stupid gun laws.

  • bad to the bone | January 14, 2014 4:16 PMReply

    It's about time.

  • steve | January 14, 2014 3:32 PMReply

    The victim (Olson) threw food at the accused (Reeves) just before he drew the gun. Olson was probably a jerk about the texting thing, and apparently a belligerent jerk by escalating the confrontation. Does it excuse Reeves in any way? No way in hell. But when you are allowed to carry a gun anywhere and eveywhere, this is going to happen when certain people collide.

  • Agent Bob | January 14, 2014 7:56 AMReply

    When will americans learn that it's simply not a good idea to alow baboons to bear firearms ?!

  • Michael | January 14, 2014 6:41 AMReply

    Guns don't kill people. Texting kills people.

  • JoeS | January 14, 2014 12:01 AMReply

    Jamming technology is available. As horrible as this tragedy is, more incidents are going to arise until theaters get more active in shutting down cellphones and texting in theaters.

  • jerome | January 13, 2014 11:36 PMReply

    no texting OR shooting should be the rule in theaters from here on out

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 13, 2014 11:17 PMReply

    disgusting propaganda like LONE SURVIVOR will only appeal to a certain kind of american person

  • j | January 14, 2014 8:52 AM

    Yup! The only people who will like "Lone Survivor" are those people who enjoy action-packed well-made films that tell true stories about real people.

    That's a narrow segment of the audience, which somehow put Lone Survivor #1 at the box office. Gerard Kennelly, can you offer some real guidance as to what people should be seeing these days?

  • Joe h. | January 14, 2014 2:30 AM

    Propaganda? You mean true story?

  • Really | January 13, 2014 10:11 PMReply

    america the most retards u can get in one place

  • Bin Laden | January 13, 2014 11:18 PM

    hear hear

    those cunts deserve a taste of their own medicine

  • Kim Moir | January 13, 2014 8:57 PMReply

    Hate that this happened, but as Chris Rock once famously said, "I understand."

  • MM | January 13, 2014 8:57 PMReply

    great another reason for people to blame guns, obviously the "only problem" in America you'd think. Obviously people don't care for texting during a movie it's rude... would I shoot someone over it no

  • Tony | January 13, 2014 8:02 PMReply

    I agree with Tami ... the lunatic "officer" was obviously too focused on the power of his gun than his option to simply report the texter to the management and let them handle the situation, the worst that could have happened is that he would have had to see another movie or return at another time. I wont be surprised if the resultant investigation by the Florida police conclude that the murderer was following police procedure.

  • B | January 13, 2014 7:28 PMReply

    theater should be gun free zone

  • bad to the bone | January 14, 2014 4:18 PM

    Earth should be a human free zone.

  • Joe H. | January 14, 2014 2:32 AM

    Oh definitely. So violent criminals can specifically target these areas without the fear of being stopped by law abiding trained carrying citizens. Great plan. Taking away the weapons from the good people.

  • OBAMA IS A WAR CRIM | January 13, 2014 11:19 PM

    world should be america free zone

  • j | January 13, 2014 7:02 PMReply

    The guy wasn't texting during the film, but had he lived, my experience suggests that people who phone obsessively before a film, are likely to use their phone during the screening, so this can be considered a pre-emptive measure.

    I encountered a few violators this past weekend, so maybe this will be a bit of a deterrent. Scratch that. Idiot phone users have no self-control.

  • klabusterb√ɬ§r | January 13, 2014 6:56 PMReply

    america is so exciting.
    action around nearly every corner.

  • LOVELY MYSTERIES | January 13, 2014 11:22 PM

    Obama deserved the nobel peace prize
    9/11 was an unprovoked attack
    Deckard was a replicant
    the top was gonna fall at the end of INCEPTION
    strathairn was safe at the end of LiMBO

  • Rick | January 13, 2014 6:51 PMReply

    This should be interesting. I wonder if he'll say he was just standing his ground

  • ajpoaim | January 13, 2014 6:43 PMReply

    Texting in the theater (before the movie even starts) seems like less of the issue here.

  • Tami | January 13, 2014 6:36 PMReply

    Ohhhhhh so the texting is to blame. Not the crazy violent police officer with a gun. And no, I'm far from being a fan of texting and phoning in theatres, but I am just wondering what or who made the writer behind this piece to focus in the cellphone in this "incident".

  • NIckeLillTroll | January 14, 2014 5:08 AM

    So the blame is on the person texting? For real? Really? For Real?
    Just a totally insane person would justify to shoot another person due to the person texting.
    Apply the american law and execute him, since that would be the only approprate retaliation.

  • Joe H. | January 14, 2014 2:36 AM

    Apparently you don't understand the concept of provocation? The fact that the victim was texting is the reason he got shot. I assume the perpetrator had serious anger problems, and the texting helped set him off. The problem isn't just with the texting but the texting is what started it.