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Updated: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:11:36 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Florida theatre shooting: Texting spat turns deadly



Curtis Reeves is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson, seen here with his wife and child. Reeves, a 71-year-old retired police officer accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theatre told authorities that "he was in fear of being attacked" during Monday's confrontation. CNN

Curtis Reeves is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson, seen here with his wife and child. Reeves, a 71-year-old retired police officer accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theatre told authorities that "he was in fear of being attacked" during Monday's confrontation. CNN

A retired police captain is being held without bail after fatally shooting a man who was texting in a Florida movie theatre.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Curtis Reeves, 71, held without bond on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Monday.

Pasco County Sheriff's officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked Oulson to stop texting at the theatre.

Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Oulson and his wife. Oulson told Reeves he was texting with his three-year-old daughter, Cummings said.

"He must have just snapped," neighbour Joe D'Andrea said of Reeves, describing him as friendly, "stand-up" guy. "I'm trying to put all of this together."

Reeves' personnel files from the police department show he led other agencies in gun safety training and received numerous letters of commendation for his leadership.

Still, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Tuesday: "It didn't matter what he had done previously in his life. You don't shoot someone over a texting incident."

'In fear of being attacked'

Sheriff's Detective Allen Proctor wrote that Reeves spoke to Oulson during the movie previews, then got up and informed management.

When Reeves returned to his seat "additional words were exchanged" and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, the report said.

After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that's when he removed a .380 calibre gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he "was in fear of being attacked."

At the hearing, Judge Lynn Tepper said she found the evidence significant enough to warrant the no bond order.

Reeves faces life in prison if convicted. He only spoke once during his court appearance, to say "yes, ma'am" to the judge when she asked him if he could afford to hire his own attorney. Reeves, who appeared in court via a video link from the jail, appeared to be wearing a bullet proof vest without a shirt underneath.

Reeves' attorney, Richard Escobar, argued that his client should be released because of his deep ties to the community.

Escobar said the probable cause document was "quite weak" and that Reeves was defending himself.

"The alleged victim attacked him," Escobar said, adding that Oulson threw something, possibly popcorn, at Reeves. "At that point in time he has every right to defend himself."

The judge said that throwing "an unknown object does not equal taking out a gun" and shooting someone.

About to watch Lone Survivor

There were about 25 people in the theatre at the time of the shooting, witnesses and authorities said. The movie playing was Lone Survivor, about Navy SEALS in Afghanistan.

"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.

"Blood started coming out of his mouth," said Alex Cummings. "It was just a very bad scene."

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. Charles Cummings said his son went to call 911, while Cummings and another patron who was a nurse began performing CPR on the victim.

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.

'A very nice guy'

Oulson was described by friends as a man who loved dirt bikes and his baby daughter.

Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.

Chad Oulson was the company's finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and "liked" several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.

"They are awesome parents," said Devon Detrapani. "They love that little girl so much."

Detrapani said Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.

"He is a very nice guy," she said. "He would give the shirt off his back to help someone."

Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.

Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids' birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.

"This does not make sense. I don't understand," she said. "It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn't have a husband."

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