Police: Fla. retiree fatally shoots 81-year-old neighbors after laundry room dispute

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 3:26 PM MST
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STUART, Fla. (WPBF) – Authorities said tensions between elderly residents in Stuart, Florida, eventually led to fatal gunfire.

It all started over an open laundry room door, according to the arrest affidavit.

The affidavit says 75-year-old Hugh Hootman told detectives his downstairs neighbor, 81-year-old Henry Wallace, recently yelled at Hootman’s wife for leaving the shared laundry room door open, and when he saw Wallace at the mailbox Saturday, Hootman told Wallace he needed to apologize.

Hootman told detectives that when Wallace tried to push past him without apologizing, he lost his temper, pulled out his gun and shot Wallace several times.

When Henry Wallace’s wife, Ginger Wallace, ran outside yelling, Hootman said he shot her twice, according to police.

Witness Kathy Barger said she was outside when she heard Ginger Wallace scream as she opened her door and realized her husband had been shot.

“I heard her, yell, ‘Oh, no, no,’” Barger said. “And then she screamed and then she was silent. That’ll stay with me all my days.”

Next-door neighbor Raymond Boze said he heard the shots and opened the door to see a shocked mailman calling 911.

Deputies said Hootman went upstairs to tell his wife, “Call the police, I just shot Henry and Ginger.”

Hootman’s wife told a 911 dispatcher: “My husband just shot two people and I believe he killed them.”

Hootman’s wife added: “The neighbor downstairs just the other day shouted at me and swore at me regarding the washer and dryer.”

The SWAT team arrived and took Hugh Hootman into custody.

According to detectives, Hootman said: “So sorry. I wish I could take it back.”