Florida congressman dies in altercation with suspect

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Johns County assemblyman died Friday night after an argument between him and a suspect, officials said.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said Sgt. Michael Kunovich met Vergilio Aguilar Mendez, 24, outside a closed shop on SR-16.

According to a press release, Kunovich attempted to pat Aguilar Mendez when the suspect attempted to flee, resulting in a six-minute, 19-second fight between the officers and the suspect.

During that time, Aguilar Mendez attempted to grab Kunovich’s taser while putting up stiff resistance, officials said.

The sheriff’s office said after the suspect was handcuffed, he pulled out a pocket knife, which was forcibly removed from him.

Shortly after Aguilar Mendez was arrested, Kunovich collapsed. The sheriff’s office said he was taken to Flagler Hospital, where he died.

“This was a difficult time for our agency as one of our employees was lost,” said Sheriff Robert Hardwick. “I would like to thank St. Johns Fire Rescue, Flagler Health+ and our agency staff for their life saving efforts with Sergeant Kunovich. I ask that you respect the family and members of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office as we mourn the loss of Sergeant Kunovich.”

Kunovich was a 25-year veteran of the SJSO before his death.

According to the sheriff’s office, Aguilar Menez was arrested on charges of resisting violence and aggravated murder. His immigration status has also been checked by Homeland Security Investigations, but it has not been confirmed if he is undocumented.

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