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'I Lost My Temper': Elderly Florida Man Arrested For Murdering Neighboring Couple In Laundry Room Dispute
Hugh Hootman allegedly shot Ginger and Henry Wallace after the husband yelled at Hootman's wife for leaving the laundry room door open but refused to apologize.
An elderly man in Florida was arrested on Saturday afternoon after he allegedly gunned down the president of his homeowners association and her husband.
Hugh Hootman, 75, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Ginger Wallace and her husband, Henry Wallace, both 81, the Martin County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Sunday.
Police say that he gunned the Wallaces down at their 55+ condominium complex, Cedar Pointe, in Stuart, Florida — about 100 miles north of Miami.
Police were dispatched around 3:18 p.m. on Saturday after multiple reports of a shooting at the complex, according to an arrest affidavit reviewed by Oxygen.com.
One of the callers was identified by West Palm Beach ABC affiliate WPBF as Susan Hootman, the alleged shooter's wife.
"My husband just shot our neighbors and I think he killed them," Susan Hootman reportedly told the 911 dispatcher.
She added that her husband had subsequently disassembled his gun and left it outside, and was sitting in his recliner waiting for the police.
"He's in shock, too," she told the dispatcher, according to WPBF.
Susan Hootman also provided an alleged motive for the slayings: "The neighbor downstairs just the other day shouted at me and swore at me regarding the washer and dryer," she reportedly said.
At least two neighbors heard the shooting, and the postal carrier bringing the mail also called 911.
Kathy Barger told WPBF that she was outside hanging a Christmas wreath at the time of the incident, and heard Ginger Wallace come out of the couple's apartment after her husband had been shot.
"I heard her yell, 'Oh, no, no,'" Barger told the station. "And then she screamed, and then she was silent. That’ll stay with me all my days."
Another neighbor, Raymond Boze, opened his door after hearing the shots as well.
"His body was lying right here, and she was lying there like a baby, curled up," Boze told the station. "He (the mailman) was standing there, and I said, 'Are you calling 911?' and he said, 'Yeah.'"
A police SWAT team was already in the neighborhood, assembling to provide security at a local parade, and arrived within two minutes, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told the local newspaper the TCPalm.
The first officer to arrive found Ginger Wallace lying on her right side with a bloodied torso, and Henry Wallace on his back with blood coming from both his head and torso, according to the affidavit. Snyder told the TCPalm that Henry Wallace still had his keys in his hand.
Hugh Hootman walked out of his apartment and surrendered to police within 20 minutes, Snyder said.
At the police station, Hugh Hootman allegedly told police that Henry Wallace had come to the Hootman apartment several days before the shooting to scold Susan Hootman about leaving the complex's laundry room door open. Hugh Hootman told police — as his wife had told the 911 dispatcher — that Henry Wallace had yelled and cursed at her, which made her upset.
Snyder told the TCPalm that Ginger Wallace was president of "that building's" homeowners association. He did not say that Henry Wallace had a specific role in the HOA. (Cedar Pointe has eight "villages" of buildings, and Villages 1-5, 6, 7 and 8 have separate HOAs and bylaws.)
Hugh Hootman allegedly told police that, when he went to check the couple's mailbox on Saturday afternoon, Henry Wallace was there, and he demanded that Henry Wallace apologize to Susan Hootman for yelling and cursing at her, but Henry Wallace ignored his demands and pushed past him.
"I lost my temper," Hugh Hootman allegedly told the police.
Hugh Hootman — who did have a concealed carry permit and told police he regularly armed himself for protection — allegedly told officers that he removed his 9 mm pistol from his right pocket, chambered a round, pointed the gun at Henry Wallace with two hands and shot the man twice from between three and four feet away.
Henry Wallace collapsed to the ground.
Hugh Hootman allegedly told officers that Ginger Wallace then ran out of the couple's apartment screaming — though he couldn't remember what she said — and was standing five to six feet away from him when he again raised his gun with two hands and shot twice. Ginger Wallace then also collapsed to the ground.
According to Hugh Hootman's statement to police, he then walked upstairs to his apartment, placed the gun on a wooden stand in the living room and told his wife, "Call the police, I just shot Henry and Ginger."
Police say he told them that the couple didn't speak after that until police arrived.
“So sorry. I wish I could take it back," he allegedly told officers. The arrest affidavit said that he also wrote a letter of apology.
He did, however, allegedly reiterate that he had been very upset at Henry Wallace for yelling at Susan Hootman and refusing to apologize.