Concealed Carry Lesson: Retired Policeman Shoots Man Texting in Theater [POLL]

Justifiable Use of Deadly Force or Not?
Justifiable Use of Deadly Force or Not?
Justifiable Use of Deadly Force or Not?
Justifiable Use of Deadly Force or Not?

What about this scenario below? It is strikingly similar to a recent January 2014 incident that is currently ongoing in Tampa, Florida. The facts of the actual situation are uncertain at this time and are being investigated. There are many legal and moral considerations, situational variables, witness statements, and facts we as concealed carry licensees may not be aware of now. Certainly I am not practicing law and am not offering legal opinions. We do know that the retired police Captain is being held without bond and the case is just commencing. The retired policeman shooter may be facing a minimum of 25 years in prison for second degree murder. Recognizing that we have to be very careful about our assumptions, the unknowns, and interpretations now, can we as concealed carry licensees and peace-loving patriots learn from this single terrible situation. Maybe we don’t have enough information now to make prudent decisions, but for general education purposes lets proceed. What are the lessons here and precautions for us as individuals with concealed carry licenses? What variables do we need to consider that a court might consider? The age-old questions linger: What would you do? Was the shooting a justifiable use of deadly force?

The Scenario

You are a 71-year-old retired police Captain with your wife getting ready to enjoy the movie “Lone Survivor” and eat your popcorn at a Tampa, Florida movie theater. You have your concealed carry license and are legally carrying your handgun. A young, muscular married man and his wife are seated in the row in front of you. The young man is texting on his cell phone while you are watching the previews. Two times you ask him to please not text. He persists and you get up and go tell the manager. When you return, there is a confrontation. It escalates and the young man grabs your popcorn and throws it at you along with his cell phone. You believe you are under attack and are afraid this younger man will beat the heck out of you. So, you pull your concealed carry gun and shoot him. He dies. Were you justified in your use of lethal force? If you had it to do over, what would you have done?

Surprisingly, the situation was partially recorded in the theater by an infrared video security camera. It is a little hazy, but is something to observe with a guarded interpretation to help you answer the key questions above. See the YouTube video:

We know that even for blatantly-obvious bad guys and bad gals, deadly force must be recognized as a LAST RESORT for use only when we need it to save your LIFE. If you are going to carry and/or use a gun for self-defense, in addition to being well trained in the safety rules, the basics of shooting, resolving malfunctions, accuracy fundamentals, and tactics, etc., you should be trained and understand the circumstances under which the use of deadly force is warranted, both legally and morally. (See my previous USA Carry article – General Legal Considerations for Use of Firearms in Self-Defense.) Many times this is muddied and unclear from a legal perspective. As difficult as it may be sometimes, we should NOT respond with deadly force when we are emotional.

Realistically there probably is not such a thing as a universally-accepted justified or “Good Shoot” or even an in- concrete “reasonable” justification of your use of deadly force in ALL situations, because that is determined by the judge and/or jury… and influenced by your defense attorney, the prosecutor, and interpretation of the many involved and complex factors. It is my lay, non-legal opinion that this subjective interpretation variable does exist, even in the face of written, in black-and-white, specific laws and “facts.” What is “reasonable” for one, may NOT be “reasonable” for another. That appears to be the case in this scenario. What was reasonable at the time for the retired police Captain was certainly not reasonable for the deceased. The shooter must have reasonably believed that he was very likely to be killed or suffer serious bodily damage. . In general, the judge and/or jury will ask some variation of this question: “Would a reasonable and prudent person in the same situation, knowing what you knew and nothing more at that time, have made the same decision you made?” 

Generally in a situation involving firearms, an Aggressor, and the use of deadly force in self defense, the author (again, I’m not an attorney & this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE) believes for a legal shoot that ALL 3 of the below criteria MUST BE PRESENT. These are based on what noted firearm expert Massad Ayoob and other firearms trainers refer to as the triad of Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy. 

1) Ability  =  Means— Aggressor has (or reasonably appears to have) weapon or power to deliver force sufficient to cause death or grave bodily harm… or bigger size, strength, weight, or height than you, or has special tactical training (judo, boxing, martial arts, etc.) that you don’t have. So, a garden hose (means) attack against you does NOT justify your use of deadly force;

Decision: Ok, so what is your decision here? Did the young and muscular aggressor have the the “ABILITY” to kill or injure the retired police Captain? Witnesses say the aggressor was younger and bigger than the retired policeman and was very angry. 

2) Opportunity  =  Proximity— Aggressor is nearby within (generally) 21 feet of you or approaching toward you or in position close to you to immediately employ force.

Decision: What is your decision regarding this variable? Was the aggressor at a distance that he could use the means to cause death or grave bodily harm? 

3) Intent  =  Jeopardy— Aggressor is verbally or physically threatening you, trying to shoot you, kill you, or interact with you to cause you or a family member serious bodily harm or death; acting in such a manner that a “reasonable person” would conclude that the Aggressor has the intent to kill or cripple. Hostile words or actions. 

Decision: Your answer? Was the retired policeman in genuine danger of being killed or seriously harmed or injured by the young man? In actual testimony the policeman said “… I thought the guy was going to beat the sxxx out of me.” Some media report that the policeman testified that he thought he was struck and some report that the strike was actually the young man throwing his cell phone at the policeman.  If this is reality, could the policeman have honestly believed that the aggressor was throwing the cell phone and popcorn at him in advance of a serious physical attack? A lot of uncertainty and supposition. Again, much we do not know for certain, so this is your OPINION at this time.

I am very generally familiar with a Florida statute that concerns assaults on persons age 65 or older, making it a Felony for even battery, let alone aggravated assault on a senior citizen. So this non-legal layman wonders if it is even a possible defense for the use of justifiable deadly force by this 71-year-old man, if the aggressor was committing a “forcible felony” or any felony by using or threatening physical force or violence against the elderly policeman. Who knows; just a thought. This is Florida Statute 784.08, Assault of Battery on Persons 65 Years of Age or Older.

So would a “reasonable person” fear for his death or great bodily harm and conclude that he was in genuine jeopardy in this situation?  This is usually a major element for assessing if a shooting is ruled “justifiable.” 

Rather than shoot, would a “reasonable person” simply have changed seats in the theater, called the police, or left the theater, if he felt threatened? Maybe used non-lethal force, like pepper spray. Recall, the policeman supposedly did inform the theater manager. This behavior of not retreating or leaving could be a major concept for the judge and/or jury to deal with. Maybe for you as well. The policeman actually made a damaging statement for his defense: “If I had it to do over again, it would never have happened. We would have moved.”

Well, I hope you made the right decision for yourself and learned some things. I know I have. At least, we thought rationally about this real scenario and considered the many situational variables. But we did have the time to do that in a relaxed setting without the immediate pressure to respond correctly and appropriately. Under time pressure to respond immediately in a second or two, we may have made a different decision. So, that tells me to try and anticipate some common encounters and decide ahead what I would do, keeping my number one objective in mind (to stay alive and protect my loved ones FIRST.) However, we cannot anticipate all possible encounters or even many. I do know for myself that I am not trying to be a savior for all of mankind or right all wrongs. Of course, who knows for certain what their reaction would be in an emergency. But there is a mindset that generally guides you. Probably you have learned like I have, especially when carrying a gun, that it is best to be calm,  AVOID stressful situations like this (if possible), and keep your emotions, machismo, and ego in check. Some think it is a sign of weakness to retreat or avoid an encounter, but you have to keep your goal of staying ALIVE as top priority… and recognize that bad things happen to well-intentioned good people. You may be right and the other individual may be wrong and a complete irrational jerk. But, you have to think rationally about the repercussions to you, your family, and the deceased’s family, time and cost considerations, possible separation from your family and being away from your job if arrested, while you are proving your innocence, and not respond emotionally.

A final consideration is what if you hesitate to AVOID any situation? “What If” the aggressor in a similar situation had a gun or weapon (ABILITY-MEANS) – (not just bigger size and physical strength) of some sort, you did not know it, and you did not initially respond with deadly force. It is obvious what probably might result. So given the fine tightrope line of immediately responding or hesitating in a perceived “deadly” encounter, it comes down to SUBJECTIVE interpretation in the flash of a very few seconds. What a very frustrating, challenging, and almost no-win situation. No one can dictate or even suggest what is the best course of action for anyone else.

So if you were in this movie theater situation as presented and were assaulted by the aggressor, as much as you wanted to respond with lethal force, are you disciplined enough to not do so? Are you willing to take the chance and risk 25 years in prison, if the court rules that there was not justification for the use of deadly force?  But on the other hand what if you judged the situation incorrectly, are wrong and the bad guy/gal had a weapon? You could be dead. Again, frustrating, challenging, and no corrective action even possible for you. No one can tell you how to respond. YOU decide for yourself. Think of your objective and top priority and then match your decisions and actions to them. A lot is at stake, not just in this hypothetical situation for you, but for a lifetime.

Continued success!

* This information is provided for education and discussion purposes only. It is NOT intended as legal advice nor legal opinion. The information is not recommendations, suggestions, or options for your specific deadly force situations. The author is NOT an attorney and is offering only his general ideas and opinions, so it is strongly recommended that you contact your own Attorney for legal advice about when and when not to shoot, the use of deadly force, laws and their interpretations and implementation, and the use of any force in your particular state, jurisdiction, and situation. You should know the laws of your particular state and jurisdiction, as they vary considerably.

© 2014 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For information, contact Col Ben Findley at
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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at Contact him at
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Ricarrdo estavans

Two huge egos one dead aggressor one soon to be incarcerated retired arrogant power hungry civil servant.


Arrogant power hungry civil servant? You’re an idiot

Ricarrdo estavans

The man was a retired police CAPTAIN. That means he was a Lt, Sgt, and patrolman. In all those roles he had the ultimate authority to subjugate, harass, oppress and push around the taxpayers. I know I have witnessed plenty of police brutality. Cops think they are all powerful over the people. They get away with murder all the time. The other guy was UN,UN,UN, UNARMED. Seated with his wife. The pig I mean pprick shot him because he was hit with popcorn. How dare anyone hit a cop with popcorn. He may as well kill him for such belligerence Oh I forgot he did. The jerk off cop even stated in court he made a mistake. To me a mistake is getting a math problem wrong, not murdering someone. Twenty five to life is appropriate.


Can’t wait to see what our Justice system does here!


Like I said, you’re an idiot.

Ricarrdo estavans

When I was in the NYC Police Dept I witnessed plenty of police harassment.


I think he really feared for his life, but his actions and thought process was slowed down a lot compared to the younger man. When he was hit with a cell phone and popcorn, he saw this man coming at him… he was seated and couldn’t get away… he pulled the gun and shot, in his normal slower reaction, but just as he pulled the trigger, he realized the guy didn’t hit him… which is why he said he thought “This is stupid…” I believe him when he said he was afraid for his life… the aggressor should not have been acting in that way and scaring people, and so I do think he was to blame in this situation.


Both Fla. & Ga. have stand your ground laws & Ga,’s law noes not say you have to be harmed, just that you feel you are in jeopardy. I am a former Air Force cop & have have worked both armed & unarmed security & even though I am 6’4″ & 310 #, I can no longer fist fight nor can I run away (I have multiple heart conditions & arthritis & & my (legal) weapon is my only defense. so if under the conditions described above, having been hit with a weapon( the Phone) that can do serious harm I might have waited longer but I probably would do as the retired cop did. P.S. Due to medications any (even soft) blow to the head can cause me to bleed out internally.


I hate to seem callous, but perhaps you shouldn’t walk or drive a car, as both pose a greater risk than a thrown cellphone.

James Van Valkenburg

Until the full facts come out in a trial, I will hold my judgment. That being said, I must think there were other options. If a gun is pointing at my face, does tend to get ones attention. Whether this was the case, I do not know.


Watch the video!

We never see the texting guy (except for his hand) throwing the popcorn and phone.
A split second later BANG!
He never saw the gun that killed him!

Douglas Maurer

Never saw the gun? Huh?


Since we never see him texting, it must not have happened, right?

Joe Sobotka

Although the man who was shot was a complete ass,,, the retired police officer, in my opinion, should not have drawn his firearm and shot the man. He should have grabbed his wife and simply changed seats. Throwing popcorn and a cell phone is not deadly force. And of course this is just my opinion, and I believe thats what I would have done in that situation. I have had extensive firearm training, and was always taught to retreat if at all possible as the first step.


I don’t feel we should have to change our seats because someone else was being an ass. As a society, we have become way to tolerant or morons and asses. I WILL NOT move because someone else doesn’t have the courtesy to follow simple rules.
At the same time I would be a bit more attentive of other options before escalating force to deadly.


First Law of Concealed Carry – I lifetime commitment to Deterrence, Avoidance and De-Escalation. Although I agree with you in principle, if you can’t swallow your pride from time to time, trouble will find you. That’s an ironclad guarantee. Me? I’m 57 years old and I don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore. Period. I will move. Hell, if need be, I will go to a different theater and see a different movie. I’m just out for a lovely time with my wife.


Michael nice, common sense. I have nothing to prove either, someone being an ass is no threat to me or my family. I would move, avoid the confrontation and live to enjoy another movie with my family.

Reb Biker

If you are unable to swallow your pride, or are the type that must act because of the “principle” that someone just violated, deciding to carry a concealed weapon will be the worst decision of your entire lifetime. I will take a dozen times more crap off of people when I am armed, than when I’m unarmed. No slight or insult is worth losing your freedom over.


“If you are unable to swallow your pride, or are the type that must act
because of the “principle” that someone just violated, deciding to carry
a concealed weapon will be the worst decision of your entire lifetime.”

Exactly right, Reb.

Reb Biker

I wish I had written it a little differently. I should have said…
If you… are the type that must REact
because of the “principle” that someone just violated…


Being ex-law enforcement, ex military, and a concealed carry instructor, I fully understand the implications of a “defensive mindset.” Nevertheless, I won’t change my right to defend myself, or give up my right to stand my ground. I won’t take “a dozen times more crap off of people when I am armed” just because I am armed…but I will make a smart choice as to when I will pull out my firearm to defend myself. Like I have said in other posts…our society has been brainwashed to be more tolerant of morons and idiots, gun or not, you guys definitely prove that point.


Kevin, you may go ahead and defend yourself in any way you want. I’m not shooting anyone over a text message. You can go ahead and claim “stand your ground” but that doesn’t mean a jury will see it that way. The state I live in – Illinois – if you’ve escalated the fight and then shot that person, you will have plenty of time to sit on your principles in prison while your loved ones are bled dry by a lawsuit from the family of the deceased. It’s not about “making the smart choice as to when” you pull out your firearm. Its making the smart choice to 1) not be in the position in the first place, 2) make sure you’ve done everything possible to diffuse the situation 3) if necessary – just get the hell out of dodge. If you’re getting your head beat in and you pull out your gun to “stand your ground” or “defend against a lethal attack” and you didn’t 1, 2 or 3, the jury isn’t going to care whether you made the smart choice – only that you made a series of bad ones first. Take care, Kevin. Stay safe, carry responsibly – Hipshot

Sir TuberKopf

Complete ass? Did you know this entire conflict occurred while previews were playing, not the actual movie?

Once the guy threw popcorn, he owned him. He could have gone to management and the guy would have been thrown out of the theater.

Bottom line, he shot a man to death over spilled popcorn, I could see it over spilled milk……… Not.

The ass that got shot, should have taken the texting out to the lobby. The theater was empty. Either could have changed seats. Neither need to act out.

I asked dad about the days before 1968 gun control when lots of people carried guns, even criminals legally carried them! He said people were a lot more polite in those days.

Joe Sobotka

I think you didn’t read my comment correctly,,, or at all.

Sir TuberKopf

Wasn’t jumping you but adding onto what you said. My first remark was sarcastic, which I know better, often doesn’t come through as intended. Peace!

Joe Sobotka

Got it. Understood. Thanks for clarifying.


As a retired police captain he was more than likely reacting because of the training that he has had. If you’re in a dimly lit room you don’t know what exactly is being thrown at you. And police officers are trained to react with an intensity that most civilians are not. I believe that police, military and others who have been trained to react on instinct first in order to save their own life and the lives around them should certainly be thought of and dealt with differently as they are only carrying the mind set and training that has been instilled within them in order to survive through their careers when they are mostly dealing with bad situations. As a wife of a law enforcement officer and friend to many these men and women do not react and think like regular everyday citizens…..and most of the time neither do their families. Use this example (may not be the best one but I think it serves the purpose) ….. someone would not simply walk up to a pit bull/rottweiler/chow and cram their hand in the cage to pat it on the head because most people know that they have a different disposition than say a lab/cocker spaniel or poodle. They are treated differently because of their nature….although you can clearly see the difference in the appearance of these “dogs” you don’t know their training. Any dog can be taught to bite or attack…..and with that training they are going to react if felt threatened. And usually they won’t just nip your hand they will cause great harm. The jury should be given some special and non traditional guidelines to go by….that’s just my opinion.

Frosty J. Hammer

They say “An armed Society is a Polite Society” but it appears that somebody didn’t get the memo.


Difficult call. From the vid, it appeared with the seating, there was no path to retreat or disengage once this escalated, so the risk was real. Up to that point, it would appear that some bad iudgements were made by all. All in all, though, if a red-hot brainledd ape swings at my face in a non-escapable location, there is definitely some justification. The lack of apparent attempt to de-escalate is what concerns me though . . . This just wasn’t very important of an issueninnthe big picture.

Zeta Male

WOW ! I feel sorry for the retired Cop because he’ll spend his last days in jail. I have to say the younger generation of folks are very mouthy, selfish, and rude, yet …even thought the guy that was shot was being a total jerk-wad and showed no respect for the elderly. With that being said: I do not believe he should have be shot … AND … it also show were our society is heading, people are getting feed up with all the crap, now … If I was 71-years-old I would have called 9-1-1 and explained that I was afraid because a much younger / stronger man assaulted me by throwing popcorn and his phone at me because I asked him to shut-off his phone during a movie and I will defend myself with deadly force with my pistol if it escalates …. Then move to the door and wait and see how fast the police arrive.


Might wait a while for the police, but I agree with you about the cop getting the short end of the stick


Good words… If escalates. Getting a phone & popcorn is not life or death. Even getting punched in the nose doesn’t warrent shooting someone. Having a CCW you have the responsibility of avoiding all confrontation if at all possible. It just doesn’t seem like this fella did that based on the info we have.

Jim Burns

I am a retired guy about the same age as the captain. I have been in similar circumstances, the difference, I removed myself prior to the confrontation to another seat location. Think it through to its logical conclusion before pulling your weapon, as a last resort to safe your life.


I’ll be damned if I’m going to move because SOMEONE ELSE isn’t following the rules.
We as a society have become too tolerant of idiots and morons. I agree the officer should have not taken his escalation of force a little slower, but the moron that was shot had no right doing what he did.


The logical move is to move. There was plenty of space to do so. And if he already went to talk to the manager he should have pick another chair. Is not being tolerant is being smart. He was sitting by the time of the insident and clearly had the gun in his hand. There is no way of pulling a gun from a holster that fast as he did. His arm should have been block by the chair arm and back rest. He had it planned. I have texted and checked my phone during previews but dont do so during the movie.

James Allen Wyatt

Intelligence and wisdom; two qualities that seem so lacking these days.

Michael Butler

Responses like this are EXACTLY why the Anti gunners can jump up and make the arguments that they make.

A gun KILLS PEOPLE – that’s what it’s designed for. It is not a non-lethal force stopper. Had the guy had a tazer – THEN I could see pulling it out, but shooting the guy – HELL NAH.

A mature person would have gotten up and moved. People with NO GUNS do it all the time, and being a person who carries a gun I can tell you what he did was about as CHILDISH as it gets, and I hope he rots in jail.

This is the PRECISE type of stuff that give anti-gunners ammunition.

I prefer the stories of 3 guys trying to break in your house and you blow them away, or the common attempted car jacking.

This type of stuff just makes US look bad!


If you conceal carry you have a responsibility and duty to walk away or find another seat. Avoid confrontations at all cost.

James Allen Wyatt



I’m all for the right to self defense but the arrogance of the retired police officer was the cause of this tragedy. If he doesn’t like the other guy texting just change seats, he had no right to force him to turn off the phone, he is a simple civilian not a law enforce man any more. It’s like when a Muslim wants to shut down a business because sell pork meat, or a liberal wants to take our guns because they don’t like. If you don’t like pork meat don’t eat it, if you don’t like guns, don’t buy it, if bother you I’m texting change seats.


He didn’t “force him to turn off the phone.” He reported the (now) dead guy to the manager. When he returned, the dead guy accosted HIM…he had a right to defend himself.
Arrogance, where do you get off with the arrogance statement.
If they say no texting in the theater, you shouldn’t do it…if you do, someone has every right to ask you to stop, then report you to the manager. You DO NOT have the right to accost the reporting person, whether with a cell phone, popcorn, or whatever.
You’re calling the wrong guy arrogant


What I understood in all this is that he commanded him to turn off the phone before reported it and the guy was piss off for that, if that happened that way is arrogance if is how you say then is self defense and I’m wrong. And not, nobody have the right to order me to do it, you can ask me but no command me.
That’s how has happen to me where I leave, there is a road marked at 35 mph & sometimes I’m late and I go about 50 mph or more and some people that goes before me take all the road to force me to slow down & don’t let me pass, they are not law enforcer so they don’t have the right to do so and that piss me off so I pass them at high speed and show them my finger. That’s not arrogance of me but them, they are the ones violating my rights, the law enforcers are the ones that have the right to stop me & give me a speed ticket, not them.


Defend himself against popcorn? What an ass


Geez, someone else who doesn’t read the whole story…it was not just popcorn, it was also his cell phone.
I have to say if I was sitting there and he threw a tub of popcorn at me which obstructed my vision, and a cell phone hit me in the head/body at about the same time, I might also perceive the guy is attacking me over the seats.
I think he could have delayed his reaction, but at the same time it was fairly tight quarters, tough call.


I did read it and considering they’re only a couple of feet from each other and unless the guy drew back and threw the popcorn and phone like a baseball its not going to do any damage. And I don’t see how the old man could draw his gun while sitting in the seat, those seats are so small you can barely move so he probably had his gun sitting in his lap just waiting.

David N

I simply think he Shot too early in the process
of his assessment of the “Danger” to Himself or his Wife in this
situation. Once he had the Gun out: He
still had time to Order the person to Freeze.
If the Person made any aggressive move after the warning he would have
had, Much more justification for taking the Shot. In this situation; taking his age and also his
past experiences as a policeman into considerations: His Police experiences may
have actually had a negative impact on his decision to fire; while I think it
Should have given him a Unique ability to have Controlled the situation Better. It may also reflect Badly on our Public Perceptions
of poor Police Training in general and the “perceived tendencies” that,
law enforcement officers tend to: Shoot too Fast and First, in way too many
situations across the Country!


David, I agree, he acted too early…but at the same time there was a metal railing behind him…hard to tell, but he had no ability to retreat. That was a really fast draw, but at the same time I have held my handgun in my pocket “at the ready” when transiting a bad area. He could have made a better decision.


With all the news about Theater shootings, this retired cop brought his gun to the Theater. WHY?
Good intentions, maybe. Thoughts of being a HERO, maybe. Was waiting for some REAL Action, maybe.
I’d a thought his wife would have suggested they move when the manager didn’t return with the old man. Yet we see he kept up the confrontation till the popcorn and phone start flying. Then a split second later BANG!
Why didn’t he wait for the manager to arrive. What did the manager tell him when he complained?
IMO The manager said if it continues when the movie starts come get him.
Sure wish someone could explain the “Stand your ground law” so us laymen could understand.
Some think getting punched is reasonable, some think just a “LOOK” is reasonable, I think if you clearly see a GUN, that’s reasonable.
I understand a 71 year old man felt his life is in danger, when confronted by a 25 year old well built man, when he instigated the confrontation.
But his life or bodily harm was not in Jeopardy, he had a gun in a fist (popcorn & phone) fight, case closed.


A gun in a fist fight between a 71 year old man and a well built 25 year old is not unreasonable. 500 to 600 people have been killed every year by fists. The question is only if his life or bodily harm was in jeopardy. I also think he jumped the gun, no pun intended.


You’re not getting it…He brought a gun to the Theater because HE HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND HIMSELF!
He had not time to wait for the manager to arrive, he was accosted by the (now) dead guy before an employee could arrive.
NONE of us know what the (now) dead guy would have done if the cop had not have shot him.


If you CCW then you carry everywhere that is legal to carry. That’s what CCW folks do. Stand your ground doesn’t really have a bering in this case,in my opinion, because he could have avoided a bad situation getting worse by getting his but up and moving or leaving. Is seeing a movie that dam important? Do I want to be right, or be dead. It could of went a whole different way.
So many factors here. Was this older guy thinking about where this round was going to end up.
I would of left or moved, but if that guy chased me down and was about to harm me,then, that may have been another story,if I even had a good shot.


Watch the video he started the situation. I’m all for CCW but you have responsibilities also! The dead guy was texting during previews to his daughter. He has (had) rights too!


As a CCW and retired LEO, the shooter – not myself, he should have known better than to keep confronting the texter. He should have either moved to another seat or contacted a theater employee. There were too many other options he had and I believe that is what will make it very difficult to justify the shooting.


Hey dumbass, read the article…HE DID contact the manager. When he returned from doing so, the (now) dead guy assaulted him


yep, I walked into that one and to think I knew better as well!


Did he a-salt him or was he buttering him up? I know how can I pop-corn when someone has died and another might face 25 years in jail. If I were the judge and I was afforded the option it would look like this: 16 hours of community service every week for the rest of your life, loss of right to carry concealed and of course monetary award to the widow.

AH White

A split second thought and fear from a much larger and stronger younger man, would you have the fear of injury? A physical attack with a split second thought from a 71 year old man. At 71 did his instincts take over from fear? There was a split second from the physical attack to the shot. Do you think he actually thought anything but fear from further aggression?

Both were wrong. Many people today do not respect the senior citizens and regard them as bothersome.

Why did he have the gun in a theater? Because he can. I carry mine when I leave the house why can’t he? Today more and more senior citizens are attacked because they seem helpless. How many “kids’ played the knockout game on seniors?


Since you are a retired Col. I’m guessing that you are older than
myself since I am only 39. I’m probably closer in age to the man that
was shot. Unfortunately the man that was shot maybe a bit of an example
of where our society is going. As we look at groups of people from the
different decades we find that the younger the person is the generally
more demanding, impatient, and sense of entitlement they have. (I know
bad grammar, bear with me.)

Our culture is breeding people who are more and more concerned with
“me” than having any respect for the people that are around them. As
you stated we don’t know all of the facts with this situation in the

In my opinion what happened was two cultures clashed in the theater;
the older gentlemen (71) came from a time when you respected the people
around you – if when he was in his 30’s someone would have asked him to
stop doing something disruptive in a theater he probably would’ve been
embarrassed and stopped. The younger man for whatever reason thought
that whatever he was “texting” was more important than respecting the
people around him and the fact that they had paid to watch the movie as
well. Obviously his being asked to not text really got under his skin
because he got violent.

I suppose we should bear in mind how self-centered our
culture is before we ask someone to change what they are doing to
accommodate ourselves even if in years past it would’ve been a common


Although I agree with much of what you wrote, the younger man was texting during the previews, not the actual movie. None of the older generation I am aware of that grew up with the values you speak of would ever shoot someone for something so trivial. My opinion is that the ex-cop just couldn’t stomach not having the upper hand like he probably did most of his life. Its important that policemen see themselves as servants of the public, not our wardens.

James Allen Wyatt

Very much agree. An example of ‘road rage’ in a different setting or so it seem to me. Having grown up with firearms, Dad beginning my training at age 5 with a Daisy Red Ryder BB rifle, initially teaching what NOT TO DO and only then what to do; Gun safety/responsible gun handing his prime concern always, he a gunsmith and builder of custom hunting rifles and one bench rest rifle that took 3 first place trophies at the National Bench Rest Matches in Tulsa the year before he died. With a lifetime with firearms, a background some what unique this day and time, but not for one now soon to be 77, having been born and having grown up here in the South. Drilled from the beginning that responsibility was the primary requirement of a firearm owner and user, there was never the need to even indicate ever through out my lifetime that I was armed and that was always the case since I was age 14 when I acquired my first centerfire handgun, a M1911 with bore damaged by the mercury primed WWII cartridges which that survived WWII. Being responsible necessitates being intelligent and wise; always level headed in any and all circumstances and that was drilled into me by Dad.. A volunteer Special Deputy Ranger with the County Ranger-Coroner’s when home from college, I simply talked a ‘drunk, tough pulp wood fellow’ about my age out of the pump shotgun he had been using to shoot at automobile passing by on the dirt road in front of his house, I in the living room with ‘my boss’ out on the porch until ‘it was safe’ to come in. No swat; no backup; just quietly talking ‘conversationally’ and at ‘arms length’ when he appeared at the door where I stood waiting for him, he surprised and we too close to him for him to bring the ‘port arms carried shotgun’ into play.
(An Attala County Mississippi ‘SWAT” team was us country folks sitting out on the porch after dinner, resting before going back to the field chores, armed with fly swatters to battle the flies.)
A lifetime of using firearms instills confidence and with a Dad with whom I was truly blessed, a totally responsible attitude.


If in fact the younger man did threaten the elderly man’s life and act in an aggressive manner then the shoot was justified for disparity of force. We cannot tell from the video if the younger man threatened the life of the elderly man but one would hope he would not have shot unless he felt his or his wife’s life was in danger. It will be hard to prove a justifiable shooting since the elderly man did not attempt to deescalate the situation. My gut reaction is that the shot is not justifiable but it is pretty much impossible to judge based on the video and media coverage.

In response to the question of why the elderly man carried a gun to a theater, I will say this. I highly doubt there are many cops that do not carry a firearm after they retire. Anyone who has a CCW permit can and should carry that weapon everywhere and anywhere they are legally allowed to. If you have any knowledge of the Aurora theater massacre or other theater shootings, you should go out and get some firearms training, a gun, and a CCW permit. Just one trained armed citizen could have ended the Aurora theater massacre in short order, but alas that was a gun free zone so naturally the only people there with guns were criminals.


Now that everyone is dealing with the aftermath I would almost guarantee that if the shooter could do it over again, he would be grateful to have a second chance to take that shot back and JUST find another seat or do something else.
When the movie is over and everyone goes home, nobody is going to remember some guy that was texting, but now they will.
Now, how many lives and generations of families will be forever changed over someone and something that would’ve been forgotten five minutes after leaving the theater.
But hey, hindsight is . . .

Dale Andrus

The very last thing you want to happen it to have to use your firearm. Anything you can to get out of a fight, I teach CCW classes and teach how to avoid the very thing. I have also noticed that the younger folks are more aggressive and have little if any respect for others. It dosen’t mean you can shoot them because they make you mad. I feel bad for both men, life will never be the same for them and their families. I hope we all learn from this. Your firearm is the last resort


It’s sad that our younger generation has been so desensitized by the video games that shooting and death has not meaning for them.


The behavior used by a Navy veteran towards a white haired old man was appalling. Really bush league. I loathe and get infuriated by cell phone use during movies and there are many short films asking you not to use them during the show. But, this happened during previews. Is that the show? That matters to me personally because during previews I grit my teeth and suck it up while deferring to the “it’s all about me crowd” who ignores the request to halt using them at this time. Even though the deceased acted poorly, based on existing information, his lousy behavior did not rise to life threatening levels and the shooting was an unjustified over reaction done more by what appears to be out of frustration than true fear.


Tough call, I agree… our society has lost much of it’s politeness


This was not a justifiable shooting. No way, no how. If you go back and look at all the events leading up to the shooting, including the fact that he went clear out to the lobby to complain about the texting earlier, the older man could have simply avoided the situation much earlier on and no harm would have been done. It’s people like him that give all gun owners a bad name, and I hope he rots in jail for it.


These are people who have trained through their entire careers to use deadly force to back up their authority, and that training can not be turned off when they no longer have any authority to enforce.
This is demonstrated by the shooter ordering the younger man to stop texting, which would probably have worked if he had been in uniform, instead of asking him to, which any responsible armed civilian would have done.
The shooter treated the response as a threat to his authority which he no longer had, and acted as he was trained, in which he was taught, and rightly so, that any assault on a LEO was going to escalate and must be stopped.
As a uniformed officer, he would have had an obligation to stand and confront. As an armed citizen, he had an obligation to avoid the situation, even if that meant changing seats.

We need to take a careful, thoughtful look at our policy of allowing
retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons.


So in that sentence, the demand is to disarm millions of law abiding retired police officers, that go through life without even firing a weapon in response to threatened violence. Disarm them in knee jerk response to this internationally publicized (political agenda driven) incident?

Taken into consideration, the demographic of the concealed carry citizenry are remarkably law abiding. Far in excess of the ‘Avg’ citizens.

Having mil background, I much prefer being among armed society, more so than the ‘Average’ perpetually dependency addicted, Chemically enhanced (prescription and illicit) citizenry the USA has in over abundance in these times. Bipolar behaviors (as possible in the theater) are now accepted as minor ‘mood swings’.

added note: father was a school principle and teacher, game warden and graveyard ‘Black Gang’ (coal shoveling) shift worker at a power plant. While at school as teacher/principle, he was CCW, as were other of his cohorts.

The school was like many others during those times. Armed response was immediate, if a threat arose against Any students the teachers were sworn to protect. Back in those times of a large percentage of people ‘carrying’, the overall atmosphere was still quite Victorian. One never was positive what their action would evoke, so being polite to each other was very common.


Since you appear to have missed them, let me point out the “sarc/on” “sarc/off” qualifiers bracketing the comment to which you object.
Sheesh. Next time I’ll use flares to light them up for you.

“millions” of retired LEOs…..*snicker*


My apology. I am touchy on subject, as my family alone has many Mils and LEOs throughout it’s History (does ‘Pinkerton’ count? How about Marshals, Sheriffs or are my and other’s with mil/leo ancestry excluded?). I possibly wrongly assume that countless families across the USA have Mil and many have LEO throughout their History? Or is that quite rare?


Apology accepted, you are not only mature but have class. I believe that there are about 40,000 retired LEOs in the USA, that was what I was addressing. I think that we all have our triggers…
A young police officer went waaaay above and beyond to save my life when I was thirteen, back before politicians and lawyers put LEOs in straitjackets of rules, my brother-in-law was a sheriff’s deputy, and my wife taught martial arts to German Polizi in our back yard. So I’ve seen LEOs at their best, and, thanks to the media and youtube, their worst.
Good cops are the rule, great cops are common, and bad cops are a rare aberration.
I could say more, but I think that is enough.


Thank you for the re. Personal friends, family are active LEO, Retired are many, deceased are many, many more. Our small city has ap 1,000 active, nearly that many ‘retreads’ working as needed to cover shifts, or on standby in case of necessity.

I have no idea how many ‘real cities’ have, in numbers of LEO ….still on roster. I was to join friends and family in the honorable profession. Circumstances of life directed me elsewhere.

I still have deep respect for the extremely difficult job of the vast majority. Read ‘Mean As Hell’, for one account of just one extended family member’s life in law enforcement. Interesting read, family verified. Carlsbad NM celebrates a day in his honor. His ancestry and sibs were also Mil/LEO. Dee (Territorial Ranger + other ‘badges’) was an interesting boy, he fathered an illegitimate child… ……in his eighties.. :>)


I don’t want to change seats either but it may be the sensible thing to do. He could have retreated to management for more help or the police unless pursued by the aggressor. The questions you have to ask yourself is’ is this the hill you want to die on?

Eddie Garcia

Why is the headline so… “mainstream news media”? I joined this email newsletter because I thought that anyone pro 2nd would have the reasonableness that the MNM lacks… I guess I was wrong…

The retired LEO did not shoot the idiot because he was “texting”… he shot him because they were involved in a heated verbal altercation… and the retired LEO believed the popcorn in the face was a distraction to a physical attack.

According to the Law Of The Land, any person may use deadly force when he/she reasonably believes that there is an imminent threat present of Serious Bodily Injury or death… Would everyone be as “riled up” had the other man beat this retired LEO into serious bodily injury or death???

LEOs take crime reports and hear first hand from victims of how they were attacked… usually as a result of an ambush/sucker punch. In my 22 years in LE, this type of distraction (object thrown at face) is usually followed by a sucker punch or kick… we as LEOs can only base our REACTION to experience…whether our own or that of others.

I’m really disappointed in your misleading “headline”… I thought that you would know better… when the attack on the 2nd intensifies, you “USA Carry” can take some of the blame.


This was a “bad shoot” for 2 reasons. First, the policeman initiated contact twice (using the example above) so he precipitated the response from the decedent. The shooter then left the theater to complain to the manager, indicating a lack of “imminent fear of death or severe bodily injury” to him or others as well as a clear ability to mitigate or remove any perceived “threat.” (In fact, in can be argued that the shooter DID retreat, then returned to confront the decedent instead of escalating his complaint with the theater management)

By returning to the same seat and continuing to engage the decedent in escalating discourse, the shooter displayed a lack of “fear” and a willingness to to confront the decedent.

These are the most likely LEGAL considerations. Sure, the decedent may have been morally wrong and/or a “jerk”, but these have no bearing on the law.


Just because he didn’t feel threatened when he went to talk to the manager, doesn’t mean later when he returned to watch the movie that he didn’t then feel threatened… never thinking beforehand that would have escalated to that point. He didn’t shoot until the man got right up in his face, grabbed his popcorn and threw it at him, all within a foot or two. If I was 71, and a young man came up fast right in my face, while I was sitting and couldn’t get up… reaching his hands out quickly at me… I’d probably have shot too, not knowing if he was going for the popcorn, or my throat.


It remains to be seen if a jury will find the argument, ” If I was 71, and a young man came up fast right in my face, while I was
sitting and couldn’t get up… reaching his hands out quickly at me” sufficient reason to use deadly force, but I have my doubts. In my training for CCW (and talking to other instructors), we are taught that one should always try to avoid confrontation and only resort to discharging their weapon as a final defense of their life or that of another. In addition, unless there is physical evidence of extreme physical distress (which would indicate a potentially life threatening situation) or a weapon presented (knife, gun, etc.) it is difficult to prove that deadly force is justified, exactly because this is also a “disparity of force” situation.

No person’s pride should be justification to take the life of another. A lack of humility seems to be the likely cause of this case. It seems you are attempting to make the “imperfect self defense” argument, but I believe there are some elements missing for it to be applicable in this case.


He shoulda moved not escalated the confrontation. Hard to back up as a grown man but common sense is part of the responsibility of carrying a firearm. I am a bit older, was a peace officer and sometimes have a short fuse, but not when carrying which is most of the time.


I guess we should stop going to movie theaters… its dangerous.


When I got my CC I promised myself that, –if possible–, I would always
walk away from any situation of even –possible– confrontation. IMO
the cop should have done that.

Obnoxious guy in the theater – walk away, don’t confront. Avoid situation if at all possible.

bangin gramz

punk got what he deserved, dig a hole


What if the young guy started throwing punches at the policeman and blood was shed? Maybe then, the older guy would be justified in the shooting?

Jeffrey Jessup

I have not seen any mention of what some of us would have done if we had been present when this went down. I am a CCW holder that always carries with the thought in mind to protect myself and those around me from lethal force. That being the case, I probably would have shot the guy doing the shooting of an unarmed man with his wife. He wouldn’t have had to worry about if he did the right thing but I would be wondering that. Scary to think a moron that pulls on someone for such a stupid reason could pull me into a shooting I’d rather have avoided but now felt compelled to protect others.

Brad Butler

the question i always advise my students to ask” would you behave/take the same actions /go to the same places if you were UNARMED?” if the answer is NO…then………The problem with carrying for some, is the same problem that occurs when drinking tequila…..people become ten foot tall and bullet proof….doing things they normally would not do otherwise…..and that goes for people that asssociate with someone that goes armed….ask any Martial arts /self defense instructor worth their salt…..the key is AVOIDANCE..the firearm is for when you CANT…not when you WONT…..