A retired Tampa, Fla., police officer has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of a man and the injury of his wife inside a movie theater following an argument over the man texting his toddler daughter on Monday.
A 10 News Tampa Bay report explains that retired police captain Curtis Reeves Jr., 71, and his wife were sitting behind Chad and Nicole Oulson waiting for the start of the movie "Lone Survivor" at Cobb Theater's Grove 16 & CineBistro when the argument developed over Chad's texting.
"Somebody throws popcorn. I'm not sure who threw the popcorn… And then bang, he was shot," said moviegoer Charles Cummings who was present during the incident, according to The Associated Press.
Pasco County Sheriff's officials explained to the AP that Reeves asked Chad Oulson, 43, to stop texting inside the theater, but Oulson told Reeves he was texting his 3-year-old daughter, according to Cummings.
Cummings said Reeves got up and left the auditorium, apparently to get a manager, but he returned without the manager and appeared upset. Moments later Reeves and Chad Oulson began arguing and the man in the front row stood up.
Oulson reportedly asked Reeves if he reported him to the theater management for using his phone. Cummings said the men began raising their voices and someone threw popcorn and that's when Reeves took out his gun. Olson's wife put her hand over her husband and Reeves fired hitting her in the hand then her husband in the chest.
"I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie," said Cummings. "I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone."
The sheriff's office says Reeves was detained by an off-duty Sumter County deputy until police arrived while Chad Oulson was pronounced dead at Hospital. His wife was also treated for her injuries, which were not considered life-threatening.
A statement from the Tampa Police Department said: "Curtis Reeves Jr. retired from the Tampa Police Department on 9/30/93 as a Captain. He was instrumental in establishing the department's first Tactical Response Team. We are not aware of any contact with the department since his departure more than 20 years ago."
Cobb Theatres also issued statement Monday:
"We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred earlier today, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The theatre is currently closed, and we are actively working with the sheriff's office on this investigation. This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly. The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident."