Police: Ballet dancer shot, killed by husband after he says he mistook her for intruder

Colleen Hoopes was shot and killed by her husband in Tempe.
Colleen Hoopes was shot and killed by her husband in Tempe.(Hoopes Family)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 4:01 PM CDT
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TEMPE, AZ (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) — Arizona police say a man faces a second-degree murder charge after shooting his wife early Friday morning at their home.

“The [911] caller said he was startled by his wife in the middle of the night and shot her,” Detective Natalie Barela, with the Tempe Police Department, said.

According to court documents, Christopher Hoopes told police he shot two to three times before realizing it was his wife. Hoopes maintained that statement while at the scene until requesting to speak to an attorney.

During their investigation, detectives found evidence that Hoopes shot from the foot of the bed to the opposite end of the bed. His wife, Colleen Hoopes, 25, was taken to the hospital with two gunshot wounds to her chest. She died within the hour, Arizona’s Family reports.

According to paperwork, a nearby home had surveillance footage with audio from the shooting. In the recording, the sound of a gunshot can be heard, followed by another more than two seconds later.

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

Christopher Hoopes was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder and discharging a firearm within city limits. He posted bond, which was set at $750,000.

Colleen Hoopes was a professional dancer with Ballet Arizona for the last five years.

“You could tell how happy she was when she was dancing. That’s where she showed her most joy and she’s so free. It was really beautiful watching her on stage,” her sister, Michaela Buckley, said.

Colleen Hoopes’s family said she had her heart set on dancing since she was 2 years old.

“I told her she had to wait until she was 4. And so for months she’d say, ‘Am I 4 yet? Am I 4 yet? Am I 4 yet?’ Because she wanted those dance lessons so bad,” her mother, Deb Buckley, said.

Dancing at Ballet Arizona, her family says, was everything that Colleen Hoopes ever dreamed of.

“Being a ballerina at a company is not a job. It’s like Major League Baseball. It’s like NFL. To be able to be a dancer at that level is the major league,” Deb Buckley said. “All she wanted was to dance on that stage. She’s the kindest, gentlest, most loving and caring person you’ve ever met in your whole life.”

Her family did not want to comment on the investigation.

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

Colleen Hoopes’s family is creating a scholarship in her honor at Draper Center of Dance Education, where she studied to help kids with the same drive and passion that she had.

Ballet Arizona released this statement:

“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Company Dancer, Colleen Hoopes. Colleen was an integral part of the Ballet Arizona family and will be missed deeply. She was passionate and dedicated to her artform and a bright light to us all. Our hearts go out to her loved ones.”

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