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Sheriff: Florida man shot, killed son-in-law who jumped out of bushes to surprise him

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Posted at 1:35 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 13:35:50-04

GULF BREEZE, Fla. – A Florida man accidentally shot and killed his son-in-law who jumped out of bushes to surprise him on Tuesday.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson says the “horrible accident” happened outside the home of the father-in-law, 61-year-old Richard Dennis.

Before the deadly shooting, Johnson says another relative banged on the front door of the Gulf Breeze home at about 9:30 p.m., startling the father-in-law, who then ran the family member off.

At about 11 p.m. that night, the son-in-law, 37-year-old Christopher Bergan, arrived to an area airport from Norway and went directly to Dennis’ house to surprise him for his birthday.

“At 11:30, Mr. Dennis hears the same type of banging on the back door that he heard on the front door earlier, so he turns on the back-porch light, he steps out and Mr. Bergan jumps out of the shadows, scaring Mr. Dennis,” said Johnson. “Mr. Dennis gets off one round, striking Mr. Bergan, killing him instantly.”

Johnson says an investigation revealed that the incident “was totally accidental” and that no charges are warranted in the case.

“Anybody who is religious out there, you need to pray for this family because I can’t imagine what they’re going through. It’s horrible,” said Johnson.

Watch Johnson's full press conference below: