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Armed kidnapping suspect dead after shootout with deputies, sheriff says

Hillsborough County

DOVER, Fla. (WFLA) – A man suspected of shooting a man and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint was killed in a shootout with deputies overnight in Dover, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Deputies were searching for 51-year-old Nicholas Kocolis after a shooting that happened at his ex-girlfriend’s home on Williams Road in Seffner Thursday night.

Chronister said Kocolis was waiting outside in his car when his ex came home with her friend in a truck.

Deputies said he got out of the vehicle and ambushed them, opening fire and wounding the man. The victim’s injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.

Kocolis then held his ex at gunpoint, forced her into the driver’s seat, and made her drive. The woman drove a short distance on Williams Road before crashing into a ditch near U.S. Highway 92. She told deputies she had kicked out a windshield and tried to hide in the water.

A Good Samaritan saw her try to get away and had her get in his car. Deputies said Kocolis shot at the car, hitting the vehicle four times, but they were able to escape without injuries.

“We always have shots around here and lots of fireworks,” said neighbor Laura Trader. “So I thought it was the normal, pop, pop, pops, because it didn’t seem like big booms, it was little booms.”

Later, three deputies found Kocolis in the parking lot of a Burger King on Newsome Road in Dover. They said he started shooting at them immediately, and after an exchange of fire, he was shot and killed.

The deputies involved the shooting were identified as Sgt. Jason Roberts, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2003; Deputy Michael Vegeto, who has been with the agency since 2013; and Deputy Derrick Shea, who has been there since 2008. None of them were injured.

Those listed have never been involved in a deadly use of force incident, the office said.

“We absolutely would label this a domestic violence situation,” Sheriff Chronister said. “This was violence caused to someone he had feelings for at some point, still does. Not sure why he was so upset,” he said.

According to the sheriff’s office, Kocolis had a lengthy rap sheet.

8 On Your Side checked the Florida Department of Correction website and learned Kocolis served more than 15 years in prison for drug crimes. He was released in 2013.

Info: Florida Department of Corrections.

“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. “We believe this incident stems from domestic violence. I encourage anyone who may be the victim of abuse to reach out to one of the many resources available in Hillsborough County, such as the Spring of Tampa Bay at 813-247-SAFE (813-247-7233).”

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