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Florida man accidentally shoots, kills son-in-law surprising him for his birthday: Sheriff

Posted at 2:32 PM, Oct 03, 2019

A man shot and killed his son-in-law who jumped out of the bushes to surprise him for his birthday, in what the local sheriff called a "horrible accident."

The father-in-law, Richard Dennis, will not face charges, authorities said.

The incident began when 37-year-old Christoper Bergan, who lives in Norway, arrived at a Florida airport around 11 p.m. Tuesday and then headed directly to his father-in-law's house in the Pensacola area, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said at a news conference on Thursday.

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Dennis heard banging on the back door at 11:30 p.m. and turned on the porch light, Johnson said.

Bergan then jumped "out of the shadows," Johnson said, leaping out from the bushes and making a growling sound, which scared Dennis.

Dennis fired one round, "striking Mr. Bergan, killing him instantly," Johnson said.

The sheriff noted that, earlier that night, another one of Dennis' relatives came to his home at 9:30 p.m. and started banging on his front door in the same manner.

Dennis was startled, Johnson said, and the two got into a verbal altercation before the relative left.

"No charges are warranted," the sheriff said, calling the shooting a "horrible accident."

"Anybody who is religious out there, you need to pray for this family," the sheriff said. "I can't imagine what they're going through... it's horrible."

Bergan, who is married to Dennis' daughter, had lived in Florida before moving to Norway, the sheriff said.