The sheriff of Pinellas County, FL, said two St. Petersburg officers had a close call over the weekend when a 23-year-old man shot at them, forcing them to return fire and striking the suspect in the leg, Fox reports.
"If Officer Kuznetsov's head had been tilted slightly to the left," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during Tuesday's press conference, "or he had taken one more step before he stopped, There's no doubt that he would have been shot in the head."
The events leading up to the officer-involved shooting began around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The sheriff said Officer Ronald McKenzie and Officer Pavel Kuznetsov arrived at the scene and noticed a white van, with the suspect, Austin Kingos, inside.
Officer McKenzie was the first to make contact with Kingos, who was wanted on a misdemeanor charge for violating a stalking injunction.
During the encounter Kingos reportedly fired a round and as described by Officer Kuznetsov, ‘It literally whizzed by his head,’" the sheriff said.
The sheriff said the bullet went through an apartment window and lodged into a door inside the unit. Kingos' gun became jammed, but Gualtieri said investigators believed he would have fired additional rounds.
McKenzie began firing his weapon, injuring Kingos in his leg. Dashcam footage showed Kingos exiting through the van's passenger side. The officers followed him and he was taken into custody.
Family members told detectives that Kingos has "severe mental health issues," and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to officials. He is supposed to take medication and refrain from drug use.
"I hope he gets treatment and I hope he gets to where he needs to be but he almost killed two cops in this county and he needs to be held accountable," Sheriff Gualtieri said.