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Man, 71, kills Florida moviegoer over smartphone use

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco (centre) speaks to the media as police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on Jan 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco (centre) speaks to the media as police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on Jan 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Law enforcement vehicles are parked outside the Cobb Grove 16 movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, Florida on Jan 13, 2014. A 71-year-old retired policeman was refused bail on Tuesday after allegedly shooting dead a fellow moviegoer in Florida for using t
Law enforcement vehicles are parked outside the Cobb Grove 16 movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, Florida on Jan 13, 2014. 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, state authorities said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - 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, state authorities said.

Mr Curtis Reeves, a retired police captain from Tampa, was being held on suspicion of second-degree homicide after he opened fire on Mr Chad Oulson, 43, on Monday at a cinema in Wesley Chapel, Florida, Pasco county judge Lynn Tepper said.

The police report said Mr Reeves fired one shot from his .380 calibre semiautomatic handgun after the two men exchanged words over Mr 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 Mr Reeves asked Mr Oulson to stop using his phone, and Mr Oulson continued to do so. Then when Mr Reeves asked him again, Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr George Zimmerman, who was acquitted last year of killing black youth Trayvon Martin in a case that sparked national outrage.