In an incident on Oct. 1, 61-year-old Richard Dennis, of Gulf Breeze, Fla. mistakenly shot his son-in-law dead as he jumped out of bushes to wish him a happy birthday. Christopher Bergan, 37, was the son of Dennis’ daughter, who also lives in Norway — it is not considered she was present at the time of the shooting.
A US man who shot dead his son-in-law will face no charges for the “horrible accident,” officials state.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told the incident was a “horrible accident,” and that the Sheriff’s department is not pursuing charges, at a Thursday press conference.
Johnson said a relative, in a separate incident, had startled Dennis earlier that evening by “banging” on the front door of his home. The two had a fight and Dennis tracked the relative away.
Later that night, around 11:30 p.m., Bergan arrived after flying in from Norway. He chose to surprise Dennis on his birthday by knocking on the back door of Dennis’ home and hiding between bushes in the back yard. When Dennis responded at the door and Bergan jumped out, Dennis shot him once, killing him immediately.
“He was totally startled,” Johnson told. “Anybody who’s religious out there, you need to pray for this family because this was — I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
Johnson added, “I’m not gonna second-guess Mr. Dennis for doing what he did. I think it was just a horrible accident that should never have happened.”