Arizona Husband Claims He Was ‘Startled’ Into Shooting Beloved Ballet Dancer

·2 min read
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Arizona Ballet
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Arizona Ballet

An Arizona man has been charged with second-degree murder after prosecutors say he shot dead his ballet dancer wife in the middle of the night, claiming he had been “startled” awake.

Christopher Hoopes is accused of firing two shots at his wife, Colleen Hoopes, in the couple’s bedroom. Hoopes was a well-known dancer for Ballet Arizona in Phoenix.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Friday announced the charges against Hoopes for the May 24 killing, with interim County Attorney Rachel Mitchell noting that “the victim in this case was an extremely talented dancer, beloved by her community.”

A trial will begin later this year on Oct. 27. In addition to the second-degree murder charge, Christopher Hoopes also faces an unlawful discharge of a weapon charge.

Court documents say Hoopes phoned Tempe police right after the incident, telling them he’d woken up startled and fired his gun off twice before realizing it was only his wife.

Family and friends of the ballet star have expressed shock at her death.

“She has always been a true light in our lives. It’s sad. This is all very sad,” her father, Ed Buckley, told Fox 10 Phoenix.

“You are stunned. You’re devastated. It’s a nightmare you keep trying to wake up from,” her mother Deb said in an interview with Arizona’s Family. “My heart has been ripped out of my chest and that pain is real.”

The killing rocked the dance community just as hard, with tributes pouring in on social media from fellow dancers.

“Nothing about this makes sense. I’m absolutely heartbroken,” Abby Maginity, a friend of Hoopes’ from Ballet Arizona, wrote on Facebook, calling the slain ballerina a “special human” and a “true light.”

Investigators reportedly based their decision to charge Christopher Hoopes with murder on audio of the shooting captured in surveillance footage of a nearby home. The audio is said to have revealed a two-second pause between the shots.

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

Colleen Hoopes’ public Facebook profile is full of photos of the pair together, smiling. Her last publicly visible update revealed that the couple had been married less than two years at the time of her death.

“Just married the Love of my Life, Christopher Hoopes!” she wrote in the July 21, 2020 post, alongside a drawing of the two on their wedding day.

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