Lawyer: Murder suspect saw shotgun in teens' SUV

Published On: Nov 27 2012 03:18:55 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 27 2012 11:16:12 PM EST

A Brevard County man sits inside the Duval County jail, charged with killing a 17-year-old Jacksonville student after a dispute. Michael Dunn's attorney tells us police are missing a key piece of evidence.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

As police returned 45-year-old Michael Dunn from Brevard County to Jacksonville on Tuesday to face murder and other charges in Friday night's shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, his lawyer said Dunn felt threatened and saw a shotgun coming from the SUV he fired into.

"Absolutely he was threatened. He was threatened," Dunn's attorney, Robin Lemonidis, said. "With a firearm. Mr. Dunn is very, very familiar with firearms. He is an avid firearms owner. Has a concealed weapons permit. Had his firearm properly secured and encased in his glove compartment, no rounds in the chamber, and when he started hearing epithets, and I don't think I should say them here, in polite company, epithets that were extraordinarily threatening to him."

She went on to say what her client told her he heard the teens say.

"Uh, 'Kill that mother (expletive),' 'That mother (expletive) is dead,' 'You dead (expletive),'" Lemonidis said of what Dunn heard from the teens. "And he sees that much of a shotgun coming up over the rim of the SUV, which is up higher than his Jetta, and all he sees are heavily tinted front windows that are up and the back windows that are down, and the car has at least four black men in it, and he doesn't know how old anyone is, and he doesn't know anything, but he knows a shotgun when he sees one because he got his first gun as a gift from his grandparents when he was in third grade."

Jacksonville police said Monday there was no gun found in the victim's vehicle.

"I humbly suggest that they may not have looked hard enough, and it certainly would not have been in the vehicle when they looked unless they had stopped it immediately, which I doubt they did," Lemonidis said.

Police said Dunn fired eight or nine shots at an SUV full of four teenagers at a Gate station on Southside Boulevard after a dispute over the teens' loud music.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Dunn and his girlfriend had attended his son's wedding earlier on Friday, and they were on their way back to their hotel when they stopped at the gas station at Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road about 7:40 p.m.

Police said three 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old were in a SUV at the gas station, and Dunn told them to turn the music down. 

Jordan Davis "Evidently there were words exchanged between our victim, who was sitting in the backseat of that vehicle, and our suspect," JSO Lt. Rob Schoonover said at a news conference Monday morning. "For whatever reason, our suspect produced a weapon and began firing into the vehicle."

Davis (pictured right), a 17-year-old Wolfson High School student, was hit by two bullets, police said.

Lemonidis said Dunn and his girlfriend had stopped to get a bottle of wine before heading back to the hotel after the wedding.

"All he did was pull up next to this car, or the car pulled up next to him, he's on the passenger side of their car, and he said, he rolled down his window and politely said, 'Would you mind turning that music down?'" Lemonidis said. "And the driver apparently turned it off immediately. Then he hears from the back, 'That (expletive), he can't, that (expletive), we ain't going to tell us where to turn our music down,' and boom, they cranked it back up as loud as it would go. Louder than it had been."

Investigators said Dunn's girlfriend was inside the store when the shooting happened. Dunn was sitting in the driver's seat waiting for her.

"When he saw the shotgun barrel come up in the rear passenger window, he saw about three to four inches of it," Lemonidis said. "He estimated the gauge of the shotgun, the type, everything, he's very familiar with firearms, as I said, owns firearms and has since he was in third grade. He immediately went into self-defense mode, which any responsible firearms owner would do."

Police said Dunn's girlfriend came running outside and jumped in the vehicle, and they took off. Police said Dunn's girlfriend will not face charges because she has cooperated with investigators.

Police said Dunn and his girlfriend stayed at the hotel, and when they saw the news the next morning that someone had been killed in the shooting, they went back to Brevard County.

"Because he was, his understanding was that he had only fired at the vehicle, not at anybody," Lemonidis said of why he didn't call police after the shooting. "He was also concerned with leaving the area because he didn't know if these gang members, what they were, who. He's in a strange town. He doesn't know if they're on their cellphones saying, 'Hey, come back and get this guy in the Jetta.' He just wanted to get to a safe place and try and figure out what to do."

Several people at the gas station witnessed the shooting and provided police with a description of the car. One remembered Dunn's license plate number, allowing police to track him to his home in Satellite Beach, where he was arrested on Saturday.

According to the arrest report, one of the victims in the SUV that was fired upon picked Dunn out from a photo lineup.

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