Home / National News / Slain Dad's Texting to Daughter Cited as Motive in Shooting


(WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla.) — A retired Tampa, Fla., police captain is expected to appear in court later Tuesday, accused of fatally shooting a man and injuring his wife during an argument over cellphone texting in front of horrified moviegoers.

“Someone throws popcorn,” eyewitness Charles Cummings said Monday after the shooting inside the theater, according to ABC News Radio.”I’m not sure who threw the popcorn and then bang, he was shot. He staggered two seats over and fell on my son and I.”

“The guy who was shot said something; ‘I just was texting my…three-year-old daughter,'” Cummings added.

The shooting suspect, identified as Curtis Reeves, 71, became annoyed when the two people sitting in front of him were texting during the movie’s previews, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s office.

Reeves has been charged with second-degree murder and it’s unclear whether he has retained an attorney.

Pasco County Sheriff’s officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked Chad Oulson, 43, to stop texting before the 1:20 p.m. showing of Lone Survivor at the Cobb Grove 16 Theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla., north of Tampa.

Police said Reeves asked Oulson and his wife, Nicole, several times to stop, and then Reeves left the theater.

When Reeves returned, Oulson asked Reeves whether he reported his phone use to the theater managers, police said. The two men began arguing and Oulson told Reeves that he was texting with his 3-year-old daughter. The argument ended when Reeves pulled out a gun and allegedly shot Oulson in the chest, police said.

Oulson’s wife was wounded trying to shield her husband from the gunshot with her bare hand.

“She’s a wreck. I mean she just lost her husband, the father of her little girl,” family friend Joseph Trapani told ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa.

An off-duty Sumter County Sheriff’s deputy who was in the theater quickly subdued the alleged gunman and took possession of his weapon, police said. The off-duty cop, who held Reeves until arresting officers arrived, was not immediately identified.

People at the theater tried to help Oulson, including an off-duty nurse who attempted to revive him. The shooting left moviegoers and residents of Wesley Chapel shaken.

“Something happening like that in little Wesley Chapel is just — I never even thought it would happen,” theater employee Gabriel Mena told WFTS.

Tampa police identified Reeves as a former captain who retired 20 years ago after helping create the department’s Tactical Response Team. Busch Gardens theme park confirmed to ABC News that Reeves was once its director of security.

Police said the alleged shooter and victims did not appear to know one another.

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