A Florida gun collector has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge alleging that he opened fire on a car full of unarmed teenagers, killing one, in an altercation that police say stemmed from loud music.
Michael David Dunn, 45, acted "as any responsible firearms owner would have," his lawyer said of the Friday evening incident at a gas station outside a convenience store in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dunn and his girlfriend were in Jacksonville for his son's wedding when they pulled up in their car next to the teens. Police allege that while the girlfriend was in the store, Dunn told Jordan Russell Davis, 17, and his three friends to turn down their music.
"It was loud," Jacksonville homicide Lt. Rob Schoonover said of the teens' music. "They admitted that. That's not a reason for someone to open fire."
After an exchange of words, Dunn began shooting with a handgun, Schoonover said.
"Nobody else in that vehicle was struck; it was just our victim [Davis], which was lucky because the vehicle was shot eight or nine times," Schoonover said.
Davis was in the back seat and was struck twice, reported The Orlando Sentinel.
Dunn and his girlfriend drove off and spent the night at their hotel, according to Schoonover, but witnesses took down his license plate number. Police arrested him Saturday morning at his home in Satellite Beach, Fla., on one charge of murder and three charges of attempted murder.
"His side of the story is he felt threatened and that is the reason he took action," Schoonover said.
On Monday, Dunn — a gun collector who shot at local gun ranges, according to authorities — pleaded not guilty in Brevard County court, with his attorney describing his actions as self-defense.
"Once all the facts come out, that what really happened is known, it will be very clear that Mr. Dunn acted responsibly and as any responsible firearms owner would have acted under these same circumstances," said his attorney, Robin Lemonidis, reported FirstCoastNews.com, the website for NBC station WTLV in Jacksonville.
Dunn's 20-year-old daughter, Rebecca, told FirstCoastNews.com, "he just reacted," adding that his family was rallying behind him.
"Everyone in his life loves him and everyone who met him, all of my friends are praying for him," she said.
Dunn, who had been in Brevard County Jail after his arrest, was transferred back to Duval County, where the shooting happened, on Tuesday. His girlfriend won't face any charges.
"When she came out [of the convenience store], she asked him, 'What's going on?'" Schoonover said. "Supposedly his statement was, 'I just fired at these kids.' I don't know if he knew that he struck anyone in the vehicle. The next morning, I guess when they woke up in the hotel and saw on the news that someone was killed, that's when they got in their car and fled."
Davis, the victim, lived with his father in Florida, but was to be buried in Georgia — where he was born — on Saturday, reported jacksonville.com.
Davis' mother, Lucia McBath, who lives outside of Atlanta, asked that her son's death not be thought of as a hate crime.
"We don't know where he was or what kind of dark place he was in at that moment, but something snapped in that man. Something snapped in him, so we are not looking at it as the hate crime because that's not going to honor Jordan," McBath told FirstCoastNews.com.
She said the fact that Dunn drove off after shooting Davis was "unconscionable."
Davis, a high school junior, had just gotten a job at McDonald's, picking up some extra cash after work, his mom said. At Thanksgiving the day before his death, he said he was thankful to God for his family, his mom told FirstCoastNews.com.
"He was just so excited and happy" for everything in his life, she said.
She said the family is starting a foundation in his memory to help at-risk children.
"It didn't matter to Jordan if you needed the help, you needed the support — he was going to give it to you no matter what side of the tracks you came from. So we feel it's really important to honor that in him," she said.
Ron Davis, the victim's father, added: "I was looking forward to as a parent to being there when he got married, being there when he found love. All the things that I'm not going to be able to do is what pains me."
More content from NBCNews.com:
- 11 things more likely to happen than winning the Powerball jackpot
- This girl's dad has a job, but family is still homeless
- Can $550 million make you happy? Not really
- Video: Jill Kelley hires high-powered legal help
- Four men sue NJ organization over 'gay conversion' therapy