JACKSONVILLE - The Florida man accused of killing a 17-year-old after a dispute over loud rap music testified Tuesday that he was taunted and felt menaced in the moments before the shooting.
But Michael David Dunn, on trial for first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, said he drove off from the gas station after firing 10 shots at the SUV in which Jordan Davis was sitting because he didn't think anyone had been hurt. He didn't learn that Davis, 17, had been killed until hours later.
Prior to the shooting on Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn said the teens in the SUV taunted him and "had menacing expressions" after he had asked them to turn down the music. He thought he saw one of them hold something that appeared to be a shotgun.
"I was in fear for my life,'' Dunn said. "I had never been threatened, let alone with a firearm. I was incredulous. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing."
Dunn is white. Davis was black. The case has drawn comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of another black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, killed during a struggle with neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. A Florida jury later acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder.
"I thought I was going to be killed,'' Dunn testified.
As he was retrieving his pistol from the glove box of his car, Dunn, 47, testified he felt the situation was "a clear and present danger."
Prosecutors have said Dunn became enraged during the dispute over loud music and fired 10 shots at the Dodge Durango. Davis and his friends were inside the vehicle at a gas station parking lot on the south side of Jacksonville.
Dunn has told detectives that he feared for his life and thought he saw Davis holding a shotgun or pipelike weapon. But police said no weapon was found.
Dunn, who broke down repeatedly during his testimony, said Tuesday that it appeared the teens had a shotgun. He said he feared not only for his safety, but for his fiancée, Rhonda, who had gone into the gas station to purchase wine and potato chips.
After firing several shots from his handgun, Dunn said he fired again into the SUV "to keep the heads down ... of three or four potential shooters."
After the SUV drove off, Dunn said he still felt threatened. "I shot at them, now, what are they going to do?"
The couple was in Jacksonville attending the wedding of Dunn's son, Chris. They left the wedding reception early to return to their motel room to tend to their 7-month old puppy, a French bulldog named Charley, Dunn said.
Following the shooting, Dunn drove to his motel.
"You have to understand, we didn't think anybody was hurt,'' he testified. "We were not in trouble with police. We might be in trouble with the local gangsters, but did nothing wrong."
The following morning, he was contacted by a Jacksonville detective. Dunn told him that he acted in self-defense.
"Again, I knew I had done nothing wrong,'' he said. He said he never thought he would be charged with murder.
Dunn is a South Patrick Shores, Fla., computer programmer, a private pilot and Port Malabar Rifle and Pistol Club member.