WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — An argument between couples over cellphone use at a Florida theater Monday led to one man being fatally shot and woman wounded, according to police who said a suspect was in custody.
Two couples had been watching “Lone Survivor” at The Grove 16 Theater in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa, when the suspect and his wife apparently took issue with the couple in front of them over use of the phones, Pasco County Sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin said.
“It ended almost as quickly as it started,” Tobin said. Someone he described as a Good Samaritan was able to hold the suspect until police arrived.
Charles Cummings was at the theater for his birthday with his adult son and told a group of reporters that the show was still in previews when the two couples started arguing.
Cummings said the man in the back row got up and left the auditorium, presumably to get a manager. But he came back after a few minutes, without a manager and appearing upset. Moments later, the argument between the two men resumed, and the man in the front row stood up. Cummings said the men started raising their voices.
“Somebody throws popcorn. I’m not sure who threw the popcorn,” Cummings said. “And then bang, he was shot.”
Cummings said the man who was shot fell onto him and his son. Cummings said his son went to call 911, while Cummings and another patron who claimed to be a nurse began performing CPR on the victim.
A man sitting next to the shooter grabbed the gun out of his hand, and the suspect did not attempt to get away, Cummings said.
“I can’t believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie,” Cummings said. “I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.”
Both victims were taken by ambulance to a Tampa-area hospital, where the man died, Tobin said. The woman’s injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.
Authorities didn’t immediately identify the suspect. No charges have been reported.