Chad Oulson, 43, was fatally wounded and his wife, Nichole, 33, was hit in the hand when she reached out to protect him, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The shooting took place while previews were playing before a 1:20 p.m. showing of "Lone Survivor" at the Cobb Grove 16 theater near Interstate 75 in Pasco County. About two dozen patrons were in the darkened room at the time.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said Curtis Reeves Jr., a 71-year-old retired Tampa police officer, was watching the movie with his wife when he asked the couple in front of him to stop texting and making noise. Reeves then left the theater for a time and returned to his seat.
Chad Oulson asked Reeves if he had reported him to theater management for using his cellphone and the two men got into an argument, deputies said. Reeves allegedly took out a .380 semiautomatic handgun and shot Oulson, Nichole Oulson reached out to block her husband's chest and the bullet struck her as well, deputies said.
"It's absolutely crazy that it would rise to something like this over someone texting," Nocco said.
An off-duty Sumter County deputy stopped Reeves outside the theater and held him until Pasco deputies arrived.
Two off-duty nurses aided Chad Oulson but he was pronounced dead at a Tampa hospital. His wife was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Deputies said Reeves, who retired in 1993 and later worked in security for Busch Gardens, was to be charged with second-degree homicide.
Another patron at the movie, Charles Cummings, told the Times he and his son were two seats away from the shooter and his victims. Cummings said the man who was shot said he was texting his 3-year-old daughter but the situation quickly escalated into gunfire.
"I can't believe I got shot," Cummings recounted the man said as blood came out his mouth.
"I can't believe people would bring a gun to a movie," Cummings said.