Man Shot, Killed for Texting During Movie Previews

By Brett Snider, Esq. on January 13, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An argument about texting during movie previews at a Florida theater led to a double shooting Monday afternoon, police say. One of the victims was killed.

Two moviegoers, a man and a woman, were shot by another man seated behind them during a screening of "Lone Survivor" at a theater in Wesley Chapel, near Tampa.

Before the movie even began, the gunman quarreled with the two about texting and talking during the previews. He then allegedly unloaded his .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

2 Shot Over Texting Dispute

The male victim died at a hospital; the female victim is expected to survive. The names of the victims and the shooter have not yet been released, but police officers have detained and are questioning a male suspect, reports the Times.

While it's hard to believe that someone could become irritated enough to kill a person over texting in a movie, the suspect will most likely be charged with second degree murder for allegedly killing the man seated in front of him.

In the Sunshine State, second degree murder can mean up to 30 years in prison or even a life sentence. If the facts as reported hold true, it is highly unlikely that this suspect will be able to successfully plead self-defense.

The murder case against this half-cocked moviegoer seems open and shut, but was it even legal for him to carry a gun into the theater?

Guns in Movie Theaters

In nearly all states, it is legal to carry a concealed weapon in public as long as the carrier has the proper permit. But that doesn't mean that theaters have to allow people to carry guns into their establishments.

As the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado, reminded us, many theaters have "no-handgun" policies that legally prevent moviegoers from packing heat.

The theater at which Monday's victims were shot -- the Grove 16 -- is owned by Alabama-based Cobb Theaters which, according to an anonymous recording uploaded to YouTube, just recently began to enforce a "no-handguns" policy at all theaters.

If the Grove 16 did have a posted sign indicating its anti-firearm policy, the suspect could potentially be charged with a state or local criminal gun violation -- even if that charge seems small compared to a potential charge of murder.

Perhaps this incident will spark conversation among Florida lawmakers on reconsidering the legality of guns in movie theaters.

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