VALRICO — On Monday, John Danco threatened to beat up his brother-in-law.
It was yet another bump in an already rocky relationship, according to Hillsborough County deputies.
This time, it took a fatal turn.
Danco, 37, arrived at Shawn Berg's home just after 11 p.m. Monday and kicked in the garage door. Berg, a 39-year-old software engineer and father of three, pointed a gun at Danco and fired, deputies said. Then Berg called 911 to say he shot an intruder.
Danco died on the garage floor.
Deputies have not charged Berg in the shooting. Late Tuesday, he remained in jail, on $4,000 bail, on felony drug charges authorities levied after they say they found methamphetamine and Oxycontin in his house at 2005 Cimmaron Run Drive in Valrico.
The origin of the pair's feud is unclear.
Danco married Berg's sister, Suzanne, in front of a courthouse clerk in 2004. Lately, the two were estranged. Suzanne Danco lists herself on Facebook as "separated."
But that did not stop Berg and John Danco from bickering.
According to injunctions filed in Hillsborough County, others also had accused Danco of threatening them. Suzanne Danco describes several violent incidents in court records.
In 2005, Suzanne Danco told deputies that John Danco hit her with his fist and a baseball bat. The investigator noted swelling, torn skin and bruising.
In 2006, she said he pushed her to the ground while she was holding their infant child.
The next year, she told deputies he slapped her face.
John Danco was charged with aggravated assault that time and pleaded no contest. He got five years of probation.
He graduated from Bloomingdale High School and since worked as a tree trimmer and welder. He had a young daughter with his strawberry blond hair.
His small Valrico apartment is filled with reminders of his girl. Among sparse furnishings, photos of them together take up one wall. Several of her crayon drawings of butterflies and princesses are plastered beneath them.
On the second-hand dining table sits a roll of pink Tinkerbell wrapping paper he used to wrap her sixth birthday present a week ago.
"All his goals were for his daughter, to do everything for his daughter," said Angelina Maita, a next-door neighbor. "He had scraped up every dime he could so that he could take her to Chuck E. Cheese for her birthday."
Danco told one of his landlords, Virginia Lamy, that he lost custody of his daughter. He moved into an apartment behind her and her husband's house eight months ago, Lamy said.
"He was trying to turn his life around," she said. "He wanted to get back together with his wife and get his child back."
Danco was mad with Shawn Berg in recent weeks, Lamy said, which was a big change from the way he used to feel about Berg.
"The two were best friends," she said. "That's how he met his wife."
Danco was very helpful, say his landlords. Anything Lamy's husband would ask of him, he would do, she said.
"He was also very smart," Lamy said. "But not smart enough to stay away from that guy."
Deputies said Tuesday they were still investigating.
Times news researcher John Martin and staff writers Keeley Sheehan and Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.