Christopher Bergan Norway son in law shot dead by his father in law after surprising him after jumping out of bush outside the man’s Pensacola’s home. No charges to be placed.
A Florida man who shot and killed his son-in-law after the man jumping out of the bushes to surprise him for his birthday will not face charges, police revealed Thursday afternoon.
Richard Dennis, 61, opened fire on Christopher Bergan, 37, outside his house in Pensacola on Tuesday night in what police described as a ‘horrible accident’.
Dennis will not face charges for the incident, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson announced at a Thursday news conference.
The shooting incident follows Bergan, 37, arriving in Florida from Norway earlier that evening in a bid to wish his father-in-law, whose daughter he is married to, a happy birthday.
From there, Sheriff Johnson described the son in law knocking on the back door and hiding in nearby bushes. When Dennis answered, turning on the porch light and opening the door, Bergan jumped out and made a ‘growling sound’ to wish his father in law a happy birthday, authorities said.
‘He was totally startled,’ Sheriff Johnson said.
Reacting in the ‘heat of the moment’, Dennis shot Bergan once in the chest with a handgun, ‘killing him instantly,’ Johnson said.
Friends mourn: ‘I’m convinced gun culture has everything to do with this tragedy.’
Amber Roland, an attorney with the State Attorney’s Office, said she ‘determined that this was simply a tragic accident,‘ based on a police investigation.
Johnson said a relative of Dennis’ banged on his front door earlier that evening and an argument ensued.
‘He just had a confrontation at the front of his house. A couple of hours later somebody’s banging on his back door … and then somebody jumps out of the bushes,’ Johnson said. ‘You can’t say anything against Mr. Dennis for doing what he did.’
Neighbors said they were shocked to hear about the incident.
Bergan had lived with Dennis’ daughter in Florida before they moved to his native Norway.
Friends posted tributes on Facebook, blaming his death on ‘gun culture in America’.
Posted one friend: ‘My childhood buddy, Chris Bergan, was killed accidentally by a family member. He had no idea he was shooting his son-in-law. I’m convinced gun culture has everything to do with this tragedy.
‘Please think about the way you talk about guns and consider dropping the gun pride. Teach your kids they are tools not toys.’