PENSACOLA, Florida. Authorities said a Florida man shot and killed his Norwegian son-in-law when a gruesome birthday joke was made on Tuesday night.
Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson said the landlord, 61-year-old Richard Dennis, first heard a knock on his front door at around 9:30 pm and went out to chase another relative away in an unrelated dispute.
Two hours later, 37-year-old Christopher Bergan, who flew in from Norway to surprise Dennis on his birthday, arrived at the Gulf Breeze home.
Sheriff Johnson said Dennis heard the same sound around 11:30 pm. – this time at the back door. He took his .380 semi-automatic pistol, turned on the porch light, and went out to see who it was.
While Dennis was looking for the source of the noise, Bergan jumped out of the bushes, making a “growling sound,” startling his father-in-law.
“Mr. Dennis fires one shot, hitting Mr. Bergan, killing him instantly,” Johnson said. “When our deputies arrived, they already had towels from the man who was trying to stop the bleeding.”
Further investigation revealed that the shooting was “completely accidental” and no charges are expected.
The sheriff said he could not predict Dennis’ actions after what he experienced earlier in the evening.
“I think it was just a terrible accident that should never have happened,” Johnson said. “Anyone who is religious there should pray for this family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through … it’s terrible.