A 71-year-old retired policeman was refused bail on Tuesday after allegedly shooting dead a fellow moviegoer in Florida for using text messages with his phone, authorities in the US state said.
Curtis Reeves, a retired police captain from Tampa, was being held on suspicion of second-degree homicide after he opened fire on Chad Oulson, 43, Monday at a cinema in Wesley Chapel, Florida, Pasco county judge Lynn Tepper said.
The police report said Reeves fired one shot from his .380 calibre semiautomatic handgun after the two men exchanged words over Oulson's use of his smartphone shortly before a screening of military action film “Lone Survivor.”
The victim's wife, Nichole, sustained a wound to her hand as she tried to stop her husband from being shot.
Local media reported that the men exchanged words over the victim's either texting or making a video call on his phone, and that the suspect had gone out of the theatre apparently to seek help.
Witnesses said Reeves asked Oulson to stop using his phone, and Oulson continued to do so. Then when Reeves asked him again, Oulson threw his bag of popcorn at the retiree, who returned deadly fire, they said.
Gun ownership is common in Florida, where more than one million people hold firearm permits in a state with a population of 19 million.
Some media reports have said Reeves has claimed that he fired because he felt he was “under threat” apparently to justify his gunfire legally in a state that allows gun owners to fire if they are under threat under its “stand your ground” rule.
That was a justification heard in the case of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted last year of killing black youth Trayvon Martin in a case that sparked national outrage. - Sapa-AFP