ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An officer in Florida experienced a stunning altercation when a suspect’s gun jammed after firing a round that “whizzed” by his head. The suspect now faces several charges after he fired at two St. Petersburg police officers over the weekend, according to authorities.
Officer Ronald McKenzie and Officer Pavel Kuznetsov were trying to locate Austin Kingos, 23, on Saturday. The suspect was wanted for an injunction violation due to stalking. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the officers arrived at an area of St. Petersburg where they noticed a white van with Kingos inside about 3:30 p.m., which is when the confrontation and shooting took place, FOX 13 Tampa Bay reported.
“If Officer Kuznetsov’s head had been tilted slightly to the left, or he had taken one more step before he stopped, there’s no doubt that he would have been shot in the head.” Sheriff Gualtieri said during a news conference Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office played dashcam and body cameras footage of the incident during Tuesday’s press conference.
“Officer McKenzie asked him for identification. Kingos did not immediately produce any ID and he was fidgeting around, and Officer McKenzie was concerned because of the movements and he couldn’t see Kingos’ hands,” Gualtieri said. “He opened the driver’s side of the door, at which time Kingos turned and began to actively kick and resist Officer McKenzie.”
During his resistance, Kingos pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and fired at the officers, the sheriff’s office said in a press statement.
“Kingos fired a round and as described by Officer Kuznetsov, ‘It literally whizzed by his head,’” Gualtieri said, according to FOX 13 Tampa Bay. “He said he could hear the round whizz by his head. It was that close.”
The sheriff noted that Kingos’ gun jammed, which prevented the suspect from firing additional rounds.
“[If not for that] gun jamming he would have fired several more rounds, and we of course don’t know what that outcome would have been – it may not have been good,” Gualtieri said.
Officer McKenzie returned fire, striking Kingos in the lower leg. Once his gun jammed and he was shot in the leg, the suspect fled on foot. Officers chased him down and took him into custody, FOX reported.
The Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force will conduct the officer-involved shooting investigation.
Kingos will be charged with one count violation of injunction for protection and two counts of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, according to authorities.