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Widow describes pain of losing husband shot in Florida theater

Law enforcement vehicles are parked outside the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Carlson
Law enforcement vehicles are parked outside the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Carlson

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The widow of a man killed in a Florida movie theater last week cried on Wednesday as she described how the joy over a rare date with her husband was shattered by a stranger's gunshot.

Nicole Oulson's husband, Chad, 43, was shot on January 13 by retired police officer Curtis Reeves, 71, during an argument over cellphone texting in the theater, authorities said.

Reeves, who has been charged with second-degree murder, was annoyed that Chad Oulson was using his phone to text during previews before the start of combat drama "Lone Survivor," and an altercation ensued, police said. Oulson was texting his 22-month-old daughter's babysitter, they said.

Nicole Oulson was hit in the hand by the same bullet that struck her husband in the chest, and her wound was still bandaged during a news conference at her attorneys' law office in Tampa.

"Just to think that in the blink of an eye, my whole world just got shattered into a million pieces," she said in her first public comments since the shooting. "And now I'm left trying to pick them up and put them all back together, and it's so hard and it's so unbearable."

Reeves said he fired his .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun in self defense after something hit him in the face inside the theater in Wesley Chapel, 25 miles northeast of Tampa.

Witnesses saw Chad Oulson throw a bag of popcorn, the sheriff's office said. Authorities said they did not think Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves if they believe their life is in danger, would apply.

Nicole Oulson did not offer any new details on Wednesday about the argument, although her lawyer, TJ Grimaldi, said she has a "very clear recollection of what happened."

Oulson said she and Chad had been out enjoying rare time alone, away from their young daughter.

"Me and my husband didn't get a date night very often, much less a whole day to spend together, so I was just so excited and looking forward to spending the day with the love of my life at a place of entertainment, you know, family entertainment," she said.

Grimaldi said his firm is representing Oulson as a victim as well as an eyewitness in the criminal case, and in a planned civil lawsuit, which he would not discuss in detail.

The law firm is accepting donations for a memorial fund to help the Oulson family. The couple's daughter is too young to understand what happened, Grimaldi said.

"All she knows is Daddy is not there," he said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Gunna Dickson)

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