Movie Theatre Shooting in FL

A movie theater dispute over texting has left the father of a young girl dead. The question: Which tool do you blame more, the smart phone he couldn't stop texting on, or the gun that a retired police captain used to shoot him?

As this horrific event shows, smart phones can be good at triggering disputes. But guns are ruthlessly more effective in ending them.

Look, we all know non-stop texters can be annoying as heck, especially when they're texting behind the wheel, in a supermarket checkout line or in front of you at a theater.

But that's no justification to resort to violence.


Photos: Not at Comic-Con at TATE'S Comics

We still don't know the full circumstances of the shooting. All we know is a 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain got into a dispute with a texter in front of him, left the theater, and came back shooting.

It's possible there might be something else at play here, like dementia, Alzheimer's, mental illness or some other health issue (diagnosed or undiagnosed) that could trigger such an explosion of anger and such a disproportionate response.

In this day and age, I suppose something like this was bound to happen. It's the technology-fueled equivalent of road rage. (And we've seen a horrific variation of this earlier in South Florida, with the texting-fueled head-stomping attack on middle-schooler Josie Lou Ratley by a teen she had previously never met).

That this latest tragedy happened in gun-friendly Florida, on the heels of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, is also no surprise.

The victim was on a midday date with his wife. They put their 3-year-old in day care. The man was apparently texting his daughter. (My first reaction: What 3-year-old texts, with what, and why?)

(UPDATE AT 5:00 PM: According to the latest reports, the victim was apparently texting or talking to the babysitter/daycare center his daughter was with. The dispute escalated and the alleged shooter told investigators he feared for his safety after the victim confronted him. Witnesses say the victim might have thrown popcorn at the retired police officer.

It seems this might be setting up for another replay of the Stand Your Ground debate that was featured in the Zimmerman-Martin clash. Only this time we have a victim with popcorn, not Skittles.)

The Tampa Bay Times account , citing witnesses, said the man was texting during the previews. Before the main feature starts, most theaters usually have an on-screen plea not to text or talk during the film.

Not that that stops the techno-addicted from texting.

As needless and seemingly unjustified as this tragedy is, maybe this will make them think twice.