A 71-year-old retired police officer allegedly opened fire on a Florida movie theater Monday, killing one man and wounding the man’s wife, because the man was texting inside the Wesley Chapel theater.
Curtis Reeves, a former captain with the Tampa Police Department, was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Chad Oulson, ABC affiliate WFTS reported. Oulson’s wife, Nicole Oulson, was shot in the hand while trying to protect her husband, according to NBC News. Only one bullet was fired.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Oulson’s murder was senseless. The shooting took place during the previews before a screening of the Afghan war drama “Lone Survivor” at a movie theater in the Tampa suburb of Wesley Chapel, Fla.
“To have a retired police officer — I don’t know what he was thinking at the time,” the sheriff said. “I can tell you, anybody, over a cell phone, to take their life, it's ridiculous.”
Reeves was allegedly peeved that Oulson was texting and told him to stop. Witness Charles Cummings said Oulson told him he was texting his toddler daughter, the Associated Press reported.
"Somebody throws popcorn. I'm not sure who threw the popcorn," Cummings told the AP. "And then bang, he was shot."
Nocco gave a similar story when he addressed the press about the shooting. He said Reeves initially went to the lobby of the theater to complain before going back to the movie.
“Chad Oulson then starts confronting him verbally, starts saying: ‘Oh, did you go in there and start complaining on me? Did you tell the staff about me?’” the sheriff said. “This verbal altercation starts getting louder and louder. During this altercation, it goes from a verbal to a physical altercation.” And then, “the suspect, Curtis Reeves, pulled out a gun.”
Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Reeves retired from the force in 1993. She said the 71-year-old helped create the department’s first SWAT team. “We are not aware of any contact with the department since his departure more than 20 years ago,” she told the AP.
Cummings and a theater employee, Gabriel Mena, said the movie theater shooting was unthinkable.
"Something happening like that in little Wesley Chapel is just, I never even thought it would happen," Mena told WFTS.
"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 cell phone."