Hillsborough County Sheriff: Kidnapping suspect killed in shootout with deputies

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man suspected in kidnapping his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint was killed in a Thursday night shootout with sheriff’s deputies, officials said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters at the scene that deputies were searching for Nicholas Kocolis, 51, following a shooting at his ex-girlfriend’s home in Seffner, which is near Tampa.

Kocolis ambushed the woman on Thursday night when she returned home with her friend. the sheriff said. Kocolis opened fire, hitting the woman’s friend, whose injuries aren’t considered life-threatening.

He held his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint and forced her into his vehicle and made her drive, the sheriff said. She crashed into a ditch a short distance away to try to save herself. She told investigators she kicked out the window and tried to hide in the water.

A passerby saw her and helped her into his car, the sheriff said. They were able to drive away even though Kocolis opened fire, hitting the car four times.

Deputies found Kocolis in a Burger King parking lot and he opened fire on them, the sheriff said. He was killed during an exchange of gunfire.

Chronister told reporters the officers involved were Sgt. Jason Roberts, Deputy Michael Vegeto and Deputy Derrick Shea. They were not injured.

Officials said they had never been involved in a deadly force incident at the sheriff’s office.

Court records show Kocolis had served three prison sentences for trafficking cocaine, burglary and for being a felon in possession of a gun.

The sheriff said they believe the incident was a case of domestic violence.

“We are extremely thankful that none of our deputies were hit. This very dangerous individual is off the streets, and he will not be able to victimize another person in this community,” said Chronister.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the shooting.