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Husband Who Allegedly Shot Arizona Ballerina Wife Indicted In Her Murder

Colleen Hoopes was allegedly shot to death by her husband, Christopher Hoopes, in late May. Police say he claimed he shot her in the middle of the night after she "startled" him.

By Dorian Geiger
A police handout of Christopher Hoopes

An Arizona man has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges in the shooting death of his 25-year-old wife, on whom he claimed he accidentally opened fire after she startled him in the middle of the night. 

Christopher Hoopes, 36, was formally charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife Colleen Hoopes last month at the couple’s home, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced on Friday. He also faces a separate charge of unlawful discharge of a weapon, according to the case’s indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.

Authorities were dispatched to the couple’s Tempe home at 3:45 a.m. on on May 20, after Hoopes called to say he'd fatally shot his wife, according to a police press release and a separate criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. Colleen Hoopes, who suffered two gunshot wounds in the incident, was later transported to hospital where she was ultimately pronounced dead. 

Christopher Hoopes told homicide investigators he was “startled by his wife in the middle of the night and subsequently shot her,” Tempe Police said in a news release on May 23. According to court documents, the Arizona husband told detectives he pulled the trigger two or three times before realizing he’d shot his spouse, according to Arizona’s Family.

Surveillance cameras from a nearby residence also captured audio of the shooting, in which the pop of a gunshot can be heard, followed by a second shot more than two seconds afterwards. Police say that Christopher Hoopes called 911 four minutes after that.

“It’s key that neighbors were able to help us and provide some of that feedback through surveillance and through recordings,” Detective Natalie Barela of the Tempe Police Department said. “That helps us to develop different probable cause than statements that were made and said.”

“The victim in this case was an extremely talented dancer, beloved by her community,” Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a statement to Oxygen.com. “Her life was cut short, and this office will seek justice for her and her family, who are devastated by her death.”

No further information was released regarding the active murder investigation this week

A portrait of Colleen Hoopes

Hoopes, an accomplished and classically trained ballerina, was originally from Rochester, New York. Loved ones previously described her as a “true light.”

“It’s sad,” her father Ed Buckley told KSAZ. “This is all very sad.”

“[It’s] tragic,” her mother Deb Buckley added. “It’s the saddest thing.”

Her parents previously said they planned to pioneer a ballet scholarship in their daughter’s memory.

"From the time she was two and a half, she said, ‘I want to be a ballerina,’” Deb Buckley also recalled. “And I said, ‘We don’t have money for dance lessons. We can't take dance lessons until you're four,' and she kept saying, ‘Am I four yet, am I four yet?’"

She graduated from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's Ballet Department in Bloomington, Indiana in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in ballet. She danced at the Rochester City Ballet and Ballet Arizona.

“We mourn the tragic loss of IUBT alumna Colleen (Buckley) Hoopes,” IU Jacobs School of Music's Ballet Department said in a statement on May 24. “She shone a bright light at IUBT, pouring kindness and passion into her dancing and life alike. Our faculty and alumni grieve her passing and send our love, support, and condolences to her family and friends.” 

Hoopes, who had a preliminary court hearing on May 31, was booked into a Maricopa County detention facility on a $750,000 bond. He posted bond on May 22 and was released with electronic monitoring, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office confirmed to Oxygen.com. If convicted, Christopher Hoopes faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, according to state laws. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for the 36-year-old this week.