St. Petersburg, FL – Dashcam and bodycam video released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday showed how close two St. Petersburg police officers came to being killed last week when a mentally-ill suspect opened fire on them (video below).
The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. on June 26 when St. Petersburg Police Officers Ronald McKenzie and Pavel Kuznetsov spotted a suspect who was wanted for violating a protective order, WFTS reported.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explained to reporters at a press conference when he released the videos that 23-year-old Austin Kingos, who suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had developed an obsession with a woman in the past few months, WTSP reported.
Sheriff Gualtieri said Kingos stopped taking his medication, started smoking marijuana, and “became infatuated” with a woman who wanted nothing to do with him.
The sheriff said Kingos sent the woman bizarre items like a breast pump and “began making comments that he wanted to have a child with her. He even had references to the woman tattooed on his hand,” WTSP reported.
The woman got a stalking injunction against Kingos but that didn’t stop the mentally-ill man.
Sheriff Gualtieri said Kingos violated the protective order multiple times, WTSP reported.
So when officers spotted him in a white van in an apartment complex parking lot, they decided to arrest him, the sheriff explained.
“Kingos didn’t immediately produce an I.D. and he was fidgeting around and Officer McKenzie was concerned because of the movements and he couldn’t see his hands,” he told reporters.
Dashcam video of the incident showed Officer McKenzie opened the driver’s door of the van at that point and began struggling with the suspect.
Kingos began to kick at Officer McKenzie and Officer Kuznetsov approached the van to help take the struggling suspect into custody, the video showed.
But just as Officer Kuznetsov stepped up to the driver’s door, Kingos opened fire on the officers.
Sheriff Gualtieri said the suspect’s bullets almost hit Officer Kuznetsov in the head, WTSP reported.
“It was described by Kuznetsov that it literally whizzed by his head,” the sheriff told reporters. “He said he could hear the round whiz by his head, that’s how close it was.”
Officers returned fire and the suspect was shot in the leg, WTSP reported.
Officials said that was when Kingos’ gun jammed as he tried to continue firing at the officers.
Dashcam video showed Kingos jumped out of his van and tried to flee on foot, but the officer chased him down until he surrendered, WTSP reported.
Once they had arrested the suspect, officers provided medical aid and put a tourniquet on Kingos’ leg while they waited for the ambulance to arrive at 108th Avenue and 4th Street, WFTS reported.
“The situation also exemplifies the very significant and dangerous challenges that law enforcement officers face daily,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.
Neither of the officers involved in the incident were wounded, WFTS reported.
Kingos was treated for a single gunshot wound to his left leg and booked into the Pinellas County Jail.
He was charged with violating a protective order and two counts of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, WFTS reported.
The St. Petersburg police officer who fired his weapon at Kingos will be placed on administrative leave while the investigation is completed, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: