Man Shot Dead After Trying to Surprise Father-in-Law

Police say it was a case of mistaken identity
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2019 3:52 AM CDT
Updated Oct 4, 2019 6:45 AM CDT
Man Shoots Son-in-Law After Birthday Surprise
Authorities say the shooting was an accident and no charges will be filed.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A Norwegian man was killed Tuesday night after trying to give his father-in-law—an armed Florida homeowner—a birthday surprise. Police say 37-year-old Christopher Bergan flew in from Norway to surprise Richard Dennis on his 61st birthday. He knocked on Dennis' back door in the Pensacola suburb of Gulf Breeze at around 11:30pm then jumped out from bushes to surprise him, the Pensacola News Journal reports. Dennis, however, had earlier argued with a relative who banged on the front door and answered his back door armed with a .380 semi-automatic firearm. Police say he fired at Bergan when he jumped out, instantly killing his son-in-law with a shot to the heart.

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Authorities say the shooting of Bergan, who is married to Dennis' daughter, was a tragic accident and Dennis will not be charged. "I'm not going to second guess Mr. Dennis for what he did. Here he is, he had just had a confrontation at the front of his house," says Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson. "Couple hours later, someone is banging on his back door, and it’s a fenced yard. And then someone jumps out of the bushes," the sheriff says. "You can’t really say anything against Mr. Dennis for doing what he did." The sheriff says anybody who is religious should "pray for this family," the New York Daily News reports. "I can't imagine what they're going through," he says. "It's horrible." (Read more Florida stories.)

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