US & Canada

Florida man shoots son-in-law in birthday surprise gone awry

Christopher Bergan lived in Norway with Mr Dennis' daughter Image copyright Facebook/ Chris Bergan
Image caption Christopher Bergan lived in Norway with Mr Dennis' daughter

A US man who shot dead his son-in-law as he jumped out of bushes to wish him happy birthday will face no charges for the "horrible accident," officials say.

Christopher Bergan, 37, had just flown from his native Norway to surprise Richard Dennis, 61, at his home in Gulf Breeze, Florida, on Tuesday night.

Mr Dennis fired one round, striking Mr Bergan in the chest in his backyard.

Mr Dennis had had an altercation earlier that night with a family member, police say.

"I'm not going to second guess Mr Dennis for what he did," Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told a news conference on Thursday.

"Here he is, he had just had a confrontation at the front of his house," said the lawman.

He said Mr Dennis had had an argument with a family member around 21:36 (01:36 GMT) on 1 October.

That relative had banged on Mr Dennis' front door in a manner similar to how Mr Bergan later did on the backdoor, the sheriff said.

Mr Bergan had arrived at 23:00 that night from Norway, where he lived with Mr Dennis' daughter.

He wanted to surprise his father-in-law for his 61st birthday.

Officials say he went straight to Mr Dennis' house after landing at the airport.

Mr Bergan banged on the backdoor, before jumping out of bushes "growling" as Mr Dennis turned the rear porch light on, the sheriff continued.

He said the backyard is enclosed by a fence.

"Our investigation has revealed that this was totally accidental," said Sheriff Johnson.

"It was a really sad occurrence and no charges are warranted in this case."

"You can't really say anything against Mr Dennis for doing what he did," he added.

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Media caption'I accidentally shot dead my sister'

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