WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a retired Tampa police officer has been charged with fatally shooting a man during an argument over cellphone use at a Florida theater.
Pasco County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Melanie Snow says that two couples had been watching “Lone Survivor” Monday at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa. She says 71-year-old Curtis Reeves asked 43-year-old Chad Oulson to stop texting.
Pasco County Sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin says that argument led to the shooting. Oulson and his wife, Nichole, were taken to a Tampa-area hospital where he later died. His wife’s injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.
The sheriff’s office says an off-duty Sumter County deputy detained Reeves until police arrived.
Reeves has been charged with second-degree murder. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Charles Cummings was at the theater for his birthday with his adult son and told a group of reporters that the show was still in previews when the two couples started arguing.
Cummings said the man in the back row got up and left the auditorium, presumably to get a manager. But he came back after a few minutes, without a manager and appearing upset. Moments later, the argument between the two men resumed, and the man in the front row stood up. Cummings said the men started raising their voices.
“Somebody throws popcorn. I’m not sure who threw the popcorn,” Cummings said. “And then bang, he was shot.”
Cummings said the man who was shot fell onto him and his son. Cummings said his son went to call 911, while Cummings and another patron who claimed to be a nurse began performing CPR on the victim.
A man sitting next to the shooter grabbed the gun out of his hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Cummings said.
“I can’t believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie,” Cummings said. “I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.”