Curtis Reeves, 71, has been charged with second- degree murder.
“Somebody throws popcorn. I’m not sure who threw the popcorn,” said Charles Cummings, who was about to Lone Survivor at The Grove 16 Theatre on Monday. “And then bang, he was shot.”
Pasco County Sheriff’s officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked 43-year-old Chad Oulson to stop texting at the theatre in Wesley Chapel, a Tampa suburb.
Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Oulson and his wife. Oulson told Reeves he was texting with his daughter, 3, Cummings said.
“It ended almost as quickly as it started,” said sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin. The sheriff’s office says an off-duty Sumter County deputy detained Reeves until police came.
Cummings and his son, Alex told reporters the show was still in previews when the row started.
Cummings said the man in the back row — later identified as Reeves — got up and left, presumably to get a manager. But he came back a few minutes later, without a manager and appearing upset.
Moments later, the row resumed, and the man in the front row stood up.
Cummings said the men started raising their voices and popcorn was thrown. Officials said Reeves took out a gun, and Oulson’s wife put her hand over her husband, and that’s when Reeves fired his weapon, striking Nichole Oulson in the hand and her husband in the chest.
Oulson and his wife were taken by ambulance to hospital, where Chad Oulson died, Tobin said. His wife’s injuries were not life-threatening.