Professional Ballerina Gunned Down by Husband Who Claims He Was 'Startled': Police

Colleen Hoopes' husband allegedly told police he fired two to three shots before realizing he was shooting his wife

Young Ballet Dancer Gunned Down by Husband Who Claims He Was ‘Startled’
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A Tempe, Arizona, man who allegedly shot his professional ballerina wife because he was "startled" is now charged with murder.

The Tempe Police Department along with the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue were alerted of shots fired and arrived at Colleen and Christopher Hoopes' home around 3:45 a.m. local time on May 20, per a release from the police.

Christopher, 36, called police moments before, telling a dispatcher that "he was startled by his wife in the middle of the night and subsequently shot her," the release alleges.

Police found Colleen, 25, who had suffered a gunshot wound. She was taken to the hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Christopher has since been charged with second-degree murder and unlawful discharge of a weapon, the release adds, noting that the investigation is ongoing.

Court documents allege Christopher told police he did not realize it was his wife until he fired two to three shots, NBC 15 reports. Investigators found that he shot from the foot of the bed to the other side, according to the documents.

He stayed at the scene and continued requesting to speak with an attorney, the outlet reports.

Young Ballet Dancer Gunned Down by Husband Who Claims He Was ‘Startled’

It is unclear if he's retained a lawyer to comment on his behalf.

A neighbor's home captured audio through surveillance footage, where the first gunshot is heard. More than two seconds passed before more shots were fired. The Ballet Arizona dancer was hit twice in the chest, the outlet adds.

"It's key that neighbors were able to help us and provide some of that feedback through surveillance and through recordings," Detective Natalie Barela told the publication. "That helps us to develop different probable cause than statements that were made and said."

"The Tempe Police Department is committed to a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the tragic shooting death of Colleen Hoopes," Detective Natalie Barela tells PEOPLE in a statement.

Christopher was held on a $750,000 bond, with a court hearing scheduled for Thursday, according to AZ Central.

The couple was married for less than two years at the time her death.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Company Dancer, Colleen Hoopes. We dedicate our performances of Round: Reimagined For A New Stage to Colleen and the passion she brought to the stage. Her kindness and talent always shone through whether she was serving as a dancer, teacher, or friend," Ballet Arizona said in a statement shared on its Instagram page.

"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."

Sharing memories of Colleen's love for dance, her sister Michaela Buckley told NBC 15, "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 passion for the art began when she was just two years old. Her mother, Deb Buckley, recalled to the outlet, "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."

She added, "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. 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."

Not ready to speak on details of the tragedy, Deb told NBC 15, "You are stunned. You're devastated. It's a nightmare you keep trying to wake up from. My heart has been ripped out of my chest and that pain is real."

Her family plans to launch a scholarship for the Draper Center of Dance Education, the publication says.

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