WESLEY CHAPEL - A man is dead and a woman is hospitalized after they were shot Monday afternoon over the use of a cell phone during movie previews at the Grove 16 theater, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office reported.
A retired captain with the Tampa Police Department was charged in the shooting, the sheriff's office reported.
The husband and wife, Chad and Nicole Oulson, were taken by ambulance to a Tampa area hospital, the sheriff's office reported. Chad Oulson, 43, died, and Nicole Oulson, 33, was treated for a gunshot wound to the hand, the sheriff's office said.
The retired police captain, Curtis Reeves Jr., 71, was charged with second-degree homicide.
The Oulsons were sitting in front of Reeves and his wife, and Chad Oulson was texting on the phone as they awaited a showing of "Lone Survivor," the sheriff's office reported. Detectives said Reeves asked him to stop several times. At one point, Reeves left the theater and returned and Oulson asked him if he had reported him to management, the sheriff's office reported.
Then an argument began and Reeves pulled out a gun and shot Oulson in the chest, the sheriff's office reported. Nicole Oulson put her hand in front of her husband as the shot was fired and one bullet struck both of them, the sheriff's office reported.
After the shooting, Reeves put the gun, a .380-caliber handgun, in his lap and an off-duty Sumter County sheriff's deputy secured the gun detained him, the sheriff's office reported.
"[The deputy] ran into the hot zone to make sure nobody else got hurt," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
Reeves retired from the Tampa Police Department on Sept. 30, 1993, and does not appear to have had any contact with the department since his retirement, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Reeves was instrumental in establishing the department's Tactical Response Team, she said.
Grove 16 is a Cobb Theatre and is in the Groves at Wesley Chapel Shopping Center on Wesley Grove Boulevard.
Movie patrons were evacuated after the shooting.
About 25 people were in the theater where "Lone Survivor" was showing, said Melanie Snow, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. Among them was Charles Cummings, a Vietnam veteran who had come to see "Lone Survivor" to celebrate his 68th birthday. Cummings said he was about two seats away from where the shooting happened.
Cummings, who was at the theater with his son, Alex Cummings, said when the argument began Reeves initially left to find a manager, but then returned and the argument started again.
He said the victim told the shooter, "I was just texting my 3-year-old daughter." Then the voices got louder, someone threw popcorn and the one man shot the other, Cummings said.
Alex Cummings said his father told him to go out and call 911. When he returned, Alex Cummings said he heard Oulson say, "I can't believe I got shot." He then collapsed, Alex Cummings said. The man's wife also had blood on her, he said.
Charles Cummings said a man who is a nurse attended to the victim until paramedics arrived.
"I can't believe people would bring a pistol into a movie," he said.
Both Cummings had blood splattered on them from where they tried to assist the victim.
Kareen Lasky, who was in a different theater watching "August: Osage County," said she didn't hear the shots and was unaware anything was happening until the lights went on and a theater employee said they would have to leave.
"The first thing I thought of was the theater out there in the West," Lasky said, referring to a 2012 mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo.
Nocco said he had similar thoughts when he first got word.
"The back of your hair sticks up as you are running toward this location wondering what is really going on here," he said.
In this case, though, it was an isolated incident involving an argument between two people who happened to be sitting near each other.
"These two people were brought together by fate today," Nocco said. "They would have never known each other."
He said the movie hadn't started at the time of the shooting, which happened about 1:20 p.m., but previews of coming attractions most likely had started.
"It's absolutely crazy that it would rise to this level of altercation over someone just texting in a movie theater," Nocco said. "But I can tell you right now when this goes out everybody is paranoid, they are scared because a movie theater should be somewhere safe where people are out there to enjoy themselves. But unfortunately what America has seen over the last couple of years is movie theaters have become dangerous places."
By mid-afternoon, Grove 16 management had put a message on the theater website to say the theater was temporarily closed "due to circumstance beyond our control."