UK & World News

  • 14 January 2014, 22:31

Tampa Cinema Shooting Suspect 'Feared Attack'

A 71-year-old ex-cop accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theatre has told detectives "he was in fear of being attacked".

Curtis Reeves is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson.

A judge ordered the retired Tampa police officer held without bond during a court hearing on Tuesday.

Pasco County Sheriff's officials said Reeves initially asked Mr Oulson to stop texting at the theatre in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa.

Sheriff's Detective Allen Proctor wrote that following a heated exchange during the movie previews Mr Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves.

Reeves told the detective that Mr Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that's when he removed a .380 calibre gun from his pocket.

The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Mr Oulson once in the chest and that he "was in fear of being attacked".

Officials said the victim's wife had put her hand on her husband's chest prior to the shooting in an attempt to shield him and was also struck by the bullet.

There were about 25 people in the theatre for a screening of Lone Survivor at the time of the shooting.

"I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie," said Charles Cummings, who was sitting near the two men.

Mr Cummings, who said he was a combat Marine in Vietnam, said Mr Oulson fell onto him and his son after being shot.

The man sitting next to the suspect happened to be an off-duty deputy, and he grabbed the gun out of Reeves' hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Mr Cummings said.

Mr Oulson and his wife were taken by ambulance to a Tampa-area hospital, where he later died.

Mrs Oulson's injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said 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 popular Busch Gardens theme park and was on the board of a neighbouring county's Crime Stoppers organisation.

Elnora Brown, a family friend of Reeves for nearly 50 years told WPTV-TV she could not believe it.

"I thought it just can't be, " she said. "He's just not that kind of person."

Reeves' son also is a Tampa officer, police said.

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