A Florida man accidentally shot and killed his son-in-law when he jumped out of the bushes to surprise him for his birthday. Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said that 61-year-old Richard Dennis will not face charges, calling the situation "a horrible accident."
Officials say the shooting was preceded by an unrelated incident earlier in the night. According to authorities, Dennis heard somebody banging on his front door around 9:30 p.m. He ran outside and got into a verbal altercation with the person, who was reportedly another family member. He chased them off and went back inside.
Two hours later, Dennis' son-in-law, Christopher Bergan, arrived at the house. He had flown in from Norway with his wife and planned to surprise his father-in-law for his birthday. Bergan hid in the bushes and knocked on the back door.
When Dennis came to the door, Bergan jumped out and made a growling sound.
"At 11:30, Mr. Dennis hears the same type of banging on the back door that he heard on the front door earlier," the sheriff said. "So he turns on the back porch light, he steps out, and Mr. Bergan jumps out of the shadows, scaring Mr. Dennis."
Dennis pulled his gun and fired one shot, hitting Bergan in the chest. He immediately called 911 and began to administer first aid. When paramedics arrived, they found blood-soaked towels that Dennis had used to try to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do, and Bergan was pronounced dead at the scene.
"Our investigation has revealed that this was totally accidental, it was a really sad occurrence, and that no charges are warranted in this case," Sheriff Johnson said.