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Man Killed Over Texting; Stressed-Out Mother Kills Kids, Herself

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Senseless and tragic shootings occurred near Tampa and in West Palm Beach on Monday.  In one, a retired police officer irked over a fellow moviegoer’s incessant texting shot him in the head. In the other, a recently divorced nurse's assistant who was being forced out of her home through foreclosure shot her two teen-age children and herself.

The movie shooting, which occurred in Wesley Chapel, killed a man and injured his wife. Curtis Reeves Jr., 71,  was arrested in the shooting death of Chad Oulson, police said. Oulson’s wife Nicole was shot in the hand when she put it up instinctively trying to block the bullet aimed at her husband, according to the Tampa Bay Times (paywall alert).

Chad Oulson was sending text messages to his 3-year-old daughter during previews for the movie “Lone Survivor.” Reeves reportedly asked him to stop and the men got into an argument, the Tampa Bay Times reported.   Two nurses also in the theater tried to revive Oulson, but were unsuccessful.

TheTampa Bay Times  reported that Reeves had been considered “the best of the best” when he was on the Tampa Police Department force, handling major events like hostage situations. He launched the agency’s Tactical Response Team, usually called the SWAT team.

In the other shootings, Jennifer Berman, 48, is believed to have shot and killed her two teenage children before committing suicide, the Palm Beach Post reported. She sent emails to her ex-husband and others Monday morning saying she was going to harm herself and other family members. The children’s father went to the family home and discovered the bodies.

The couple divorced in December, and Jennifer Berman was being forced out of her home following foreclosure. A certified nurse’s assistant who worked nights caring for a 99-year-old man, she worried about the safety of her children, 16-year-old Alexander and 15-year-old Jacqueline. She was so desperate for money that she sold her late father’s watch and other items, a friend said.

The teens were said to have been talented musicians; Alexander played cello, his sister the violin.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.