(KMOV) – A moviegoer who was fatally shot after texting in a Florida movie theater on Monday is from the St. Louis area.
Family members tell News 4 Chad Oulson was originally from Alton, Ill. Additional details surrounding his ties to the region were not immediately available.
The incident occurred as previews were showing before a screening of the movie “Lone Survivor” at Cobb Theatres’ Grove 16 & CineBistro in Wesley Chapel, a suburb north of Tampa.
Police say Curtis Reeves, 71, and his wife were sitting behind Chad and Nicole Oulson when Reeves became upset with Chad Oulson, 43, for texting, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office told CBS affiliate WTSP.
Pasco County Sheriff’s officials say Reeves initially asked Oulson to stop texting , then got up from his seat and informed management.
When Reeves returned to his seat “additional words were exchanged” and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves’ face, the report said.
Police say that’s when Reeves removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket and fired the gun, striking Oulson once in the chest.
Oulson’s wife, who was also in the theater, had put her hand on her husband’s chest prior to the shooting in an attempt to shield him. Officials say she was also struck by the bullet.
“I can’t believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie,” said Charles Cummings, who was sitting near Oulson and Reeves. “I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.”
Cummings, who said he was a combat Marine in Vietnam, said Oulson fell onto him and his son. When they spoke to reporters on Monday, both had blood on their clothes.
As Oulson staggered and fell, “He said, ‘I can’t believe I got shot,” Cummings’ son recounted. “Blood started coming out of his mouth. I was trying to hold him up. He just fell down.”
Charles Cummings said his son went to call 911, while Cummings and another patron who was a nurse began performing CPR on the victim.
The man sitting next to the suspect happened to be an off-duty deputy from another county, and he grabbed the gun out of Reeves’ hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Cummings said.
Oulson and his wife were taken by ambulance to a Tampa-area hospital, where Chad Oulson died, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Tobin. His wife’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Reeves was later arrested and told authorities that “he was in fear of being attacked” during the confrontation. He was charged with second-degree murder and was scheduled for his first court appearance at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said in a news release that Reeves was a captain when he retired from the department in 1993. She added that he was instrumental in establishing the agency’s first tactical response team. After he retired, Reeves worked security for the Busch Gardens theme park and was on the board of a neighboring county’s Crime Stoppers organization.
The Associatd Press contributed to this report