WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Christopher Bergan traveled from Norway to Florida to surprise his father-in-law Richard Dennis on his birthday.
- Unfortunately, he scared Dennis so much by suddenly coming out of the shadows, leading to Dennis fatally shooting him.
- According to Giffords Law Center, while an estimated 36,000 Americans are killed by guns, 487 are caused by accidents.
A family’s life was forever changed because of a tragic case of mistaken identity.
Christopher Bergan, 37, flew from Norway to Gulf Breeze, Florida to surprise his father-in-law, Richard Dennis, on his 61st birthday. But when he startled Dennis by leaping out from some bushes in his backyard, Dennis, who thought he was an intruder, shot and killed his son-in-law.
Authorities said that the tragic incident occurred on October 1 when Bergan, a Norway resident, who is married to Dennis’ daughter,(also a Norway resident) arrived in Florida at about 11 p.m. and went straight to his father-in-law’s house.
Two hours prior Bergan’s arrival, another family member went to Dennis’s house banging on the front door and startling Dennis, said Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson on Tuesday’s press conference who added that the unnamed relative got into a “verbal altercation” with Dennis before he “[ran] him off.”
Later at 11:30 pm, Dennis heard the same kind of banging but this time on the back door. He turned on the back door light, stepped out and was very startled when Bergan suddenly revealed himself by jumping out of the shadows with a ‘growling’ noise.
“Mr. Dennis gives off one round, striking Mr. Bergan, killing him instantly,” Johnson told reporters in the press conference. Johnson also added that the bullet which came from a 380 semi-automatic gun went straight to Bergan’s heart.
The Giffords Law Center reports that out of the 36,000 Americans killed by guns each year, about 487 deaths are accidental.
Upon realizing what he had done, Dennis called 911 while witnesses at the scene including Bergan’s friend who drove him from the airport tried to stop the bleeding.
Based on investigations, Johnson said the incident was totally accidental. “It was a really sad occurrence, and that no charges are warranted in this case.” He also called on people to pray for the family during this ‘horrible’ time.
Nevertheless, Johnson said that he understood what Dennis did, adding that the terrible accident should never have happened.
“I mean, he just had a confrontation at the front of his house, a couple hours later somebody’s banging on his back door. And it’s a fenced yard, and somebody jumps out of the bushes, I mean, you can’t really say anything against Mr. Dennis for doing what he did.”