MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Michael David Dunn lived the beachside life Northerners dream of: oceanfront condominium, successful software-engineering career, a pilot's license, a loving fiancee.
The day after last Thanksgiving, Dunn was in good spirits when he attended his son's wedding at a historic home overlooking the St. Johns River in Orange Park, a quaint Jacksonville suburb.
But after the wedding, Dunn got into a parking lot dispute with teenagers at a gas station that ended with a 17-year-old dead and Dunn charged with murder.
Police portray the South Patrick Shores resident as an out-of-control gunman who became enraged over loud rap music booming from a nearby car, grabbed a 9mm pistol from his glovebox and fired two volleys into a Dodge Durango containing four black teens. The gunshots killed Jordan Davis and narrowly missed two other boys.
Dunn told detectives he acted in self-defense after he heard threats and thought he saw Davis raise the barrel of a shotgun above the SUV's rear passenger window. No gun was found, police said.
Dunn's murder trial is scheduled to start Feb. 3 in a Jacksonville courtroom. After George Zimmerman's high-profile acquittal last summer for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, Rolling Stone magazine has labeled Dunn's case Florida's other major Stand Your Ground showdown.
At first blush, the 47-year-old Dunn appears to be the kind of guy you'd welcome as a next-door neighbor, said John Phillips, the lawyer representing Davis' family.
"It's hard to try to construct somebody that's had a night like that, who seemed very normal coming in - the average person on the street - and then becomes, to some extent, a vicious killer," Phillips said.
"Recklessly firing 10 shots at a gas station, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year," he said.
Phillips said Dunn views Florida's Stand Your Ground law as a Monopoly "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.
That's not the man Dunn's daughter, Rebecca, knows.
Describing her father as kind, loving, adventurous and "crazy-intelligent," she calls him her best friend and No. 1 supporter, besides her mom. The 21-year-old recalled how he used to wake her up so they could watch the sun rise together on the beach.
"I feel like I'm in an endless nightmare now," said Rebecca, who has received death threats since the shooting.
After attending his son's Nov. 23, 2012, wedding, Dunn and his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer parked at a Jacksonville Gate gas station next to the Durango with Davis and three other teens inside. Rouer exited Dunn's Volkswagen Jetta about 7:30 p.m. and walked inside to buy wine and potato chips.
According to Dunn and numerous witnesses, he and Davis began dropping "F-bombs" at each other during an argument over loud music.
Dunn later told detectives that Davis reached down to grab something, said, "You're dead!" and opened his door. That's when Dunn said he reached for his glovebox, unholstered his pistol, loaded it "quicker than a flash" and shot.
"I don't know how I can express to you guys that I was in fear for my life. I've never been so scared in my life," Dunn said to detectives.
"I was so afraid that I didn't have time to think. I only reacted," Dunn said.
Rouer heard the gunfire while she was inside the gas station, ran outside. She got into Dunn's car, and they drove off.
Asked by detectives why he didn't report the shooting by calling 911, he said he planned to drive Rouer home to Brevard County in the morning, then confess to authorities.
By 4:25 a.m. the next morning, Jacksonville police had obtained an arrest warrant and contacted the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, looking for Dunn. A witness at the gas station had reported his license tag number.
He was arrested by deputies at about 10:30 a.m. at his condo, then taken to police headquarters in Viera for a videotaped interview with two Jacksonville detectives.
Wearing a yellow short-sleeved collared shirt and striped shorts, fidgeting and wiping his hands on his knees, Dunn related his side of the story - but neither detective bought his version of events.
Rather, they said details of Dunn's story didn't match those at the crime scene. Neither the surviving boys nor independent witnesses at the gas station said Davis had a firearm or tried to exit the SUV - in fact, one of the boys later said Davis couldn't have exited a rear door because the child locks were engaged.
"If there was a shotgun coming up at you, we would expect you to do what you did. The problem that we have is, there is no shotgun. That's the bridge that we've got to get across," a detective told Dunn.
"You keep dwelling on this shotgun as if there's one at the scene. If there was a shotgun, a BB gun, any type of gun at the scene - hell, if there was a water gun that was black that looked real at the scene. ..." the detective said.
Early in the interview, Dunn acknowledged that it was "stupid" of him to ask the teens to turn down their music. "What I should have done is put the car in reverse. But a shotgun come up or whatever, and it was fight or flight. I don't think there was any time for flight at that moment, because I was going to get shot."
'The all-American kid'
Phillips said Davis was homeschooled by his mother in Atlanta, then moved to Jacksonville to attend high school - and his good character will be highlighted during the upcoming murder trial.
"Jordan was the all-American kid. He wore Vans. He loved music. He dated the prettiest girl in school. He's what we want our kids to be - good and happy," Phillips said. "Unfortunately, I met Jordan at his funeral."
Davis' mother, Atlanta resident Lucy McBath, is the national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She testified before a U.S. Senate committee in October.
McBath believes Dunn dismissed the black teens as hooligans, not human beings or kids going off to college someday.
"In his mind, he had already racially profiled them. And that, for him, was his defining moment that, 'These are thugs. I'm in fear of my life' - even though they've not done anything to harm him," McBath said.
'I'm good upstairs'
Dunn told detectives he was never diagnosed with mental health issues - "I'm good upstairs," he quipped.
He has three children, and he had dated Rouer for 3 1/2 years before the shooting.
Dunn's family launched a website, justicefordunn.com, to generate donations for his legal defense. His mother, Sandra Dunn of Port St. Lucie, declined an interview request, saying she is upset because she believes her son has been portrayed as a racist killer in news reports and social media. Rouer also declined to comment.
"For the record, I have no history of violence and was 45 years old at the time of the Jordan Davis shooting," Dunn states on the website. "I had a career, a concealed weapons permit and a security clearance, which required an FBI background check.
"I also have a pilot's license, issued post 9/11, with stringent background checks as well. I have friends and colleagues who I've known for over 15 years - some more than 20. All of them will vouch for me being level headed," Dunn wrote.
In an interview with detectives in Viera, Rouer said Dunn hates country and rap music. She said he is passionate about politics and gun control, and he's the type of guy who "can talk a subject to death."
She told detectives that during their drive from the gas station to the hotel, Dunn never mentioned that anyone in the Durango had a gun.
Stand Your Ground debate
The twin shadows of the Zimmerman trial and Florida's Stand Your Ground law loom over Dunn's case.
Jordan's parents said their slain son and Martin were both 17-year-old African-American boys who were born in February and raised by divorced couples. And they believe both Zimmerman and Dunn felt "empowered" by their firearms.
However, the opposing lawyers - Phillips and Strolla - say the Dunn case is entirely different.
"There was a physical confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman, which didn't happen here - Jordan never got out of the car," said Phillips. "Unlike the picture that everybody sees of Zimmerman with the bloody nose and busted lip, not a hair on Dunn's head was ever touched.
"Dunn shot into a vehicle 10 times."
Dunn's attorney Strolla said "there are no similarities whatsoever between the two cases," save the fact that the shooting victims were African-American teens.
Strolla said his opinion of the Stand Your Ground law is "both irrelevant and not permissible to share, prior to a fair jury trial for my client." That said, he accused Davis' parents and Phillips of making "self-serving statements to further their own agendas and bias."
"I found it extremely interesting that the victim's mother went before Congress and said, 'This law doesn't work,' in regards to Stand Your Ground. We have not moved to dismiss this case or filed a Stand Your Ground motion, yet Ms. McBath claims that the law does not work," he said.
Meanwhile, Dunn has remained jailed without bond on a first-degree murder charge, three counts of attempted murder and shooting or throwing a deadly missile. Strolla declined a request to interview Dunn from behind bars.