Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yes; Again

You have probably read about the latest Florida shooting. One version of the details are here. Another set here, and a better set here.

First and foremost, this is a tragedy for both families. A young family is now without a father and husband, and, if the Zimmerman/Martin fiasco is any indicator, the Reeves family will be stressed to the point of fracture by the media and the courts as well.

That being said; so many things I find interesting in the case. First is the fact set.

Based on the published reports (which don't seem to have too much variance in the facts reported, just the number of facts reported).  Chad Oulson, the victim, only really has 3 things known about him; he is 43, married, and father of at least one child. Our shooter, Curtis Reeves has a more detailed history. 71, a retired police captain who also spent at least some time as head of security for Busch Gardens. We are not dealing with a neighborhood watch wanna be; this man has been there, done that, for 50 years.

Fact 1: The victim was texting during the opening previews of the movie. Our shooter asked him to stop, most likely because the noise and light were distracting and bothersome. Strange thing 1: He is texting his 3 year-old daughter. What? I'm sorry, that is just goofy.

Fact 2: The victim declines to stop texting his 3 year-old daughter. After several requests, the shooter leaves the theater and supposedly talks to management.

Fact 3: The shooter returns to his seat, and is confronted by the victim. The victim seems concerned that the shooter has reported him to management. A shouting match ensues.

Fact 4: Popcorn is thrown; how much and by whom isn't clear, but the shooter claims he was hit by the popcorn.

Fact 5: Feeling threatened, the shooter pulls his weapon out of his pocket and shoots. Strange thing 2: he manages, with one shot, to hit the wife in the hand and the victim in the chest.

Fact 6: An off duty police officer is nearby and disarms the shooter, maintains control of his weapon and keeps him in custody until armed officers arrive.

Here is the scene, as I see it. Once the argument heats up things will get fuzzy on both sides, but the shooter is not only a trained officer, he setup the Tampa Tactical Response Unit. He knows how to defend himself, not just in normal circumstances, but in tense situations. In his mind he saw one of two things that heightened his sense of awareness and made him fear for his safety. First he has a much younger, angry man within a couple of feet of him. A method of distraction used prior to a physical attack is the throwing of something at the eyes or face. It distracts the target and puts them off balance.

Once the popcorn flew the shooter reacted to his years of training and experience. He may have pulled his weapon at this point.

Fact 7: The wife's injured hand. Was it her motion towards her husband, in a vain attempt to stop a bullet with her hand, cause our shooter to think the victim was trying to disarm him, causing him to shoot?

Remember; these folks aren't feet away on a brightly lit street; they are inches away from each other in a dark or darkened theater, in the middle of a confrontation. it wouldn't take much, I would think, for the training ingrained by years of working the street to take over when an action, or actions, perceived as threatening takes place.

Just like in the Zimmerman/Martin event of a  year or so back; a few minutes changes the course of many lives forever.

A friend of mine sent me a text as we were discussing this topic in which he said: I just think we should live in a country where it's not okay to shoot people because you got into an argument with them.

Well, I agree with that.

But I also think we should be able to live in a country where we don't have to walk around in fear. For old folks, fear of the younger. For women, fear of the men. The weak of the strong, the small of the large. The honest of the crooked. The unarmed of the armed.

It wasn't the argument that got our victim shot; it wasn't the flying popcorn either. It was that he had no fear of an old man, and thought he could bully him.

And, tragically, found out he was wrong.

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