ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Hillsborough County deputy shot and killed a man who charged at him and chased him with a large kitchen knife held over his head, Sheriff Chad Chronister said late Thursday.

  • Deputy shot, killed suicidal man with large knife, sheriff says
  • Chronister: Man chased deputy with kitchen knife over his head
  • Sheriff urges residents to seek mental help if they're struggling
  • If you or a loved one needs help, call Crisis Center of Tampa Bay at 211

Lenny Blaine Griffin, whose 48th birthday was Thursday, was taken to a hospital after being shot but didn't survive, the sheriff said.

The shooting happened on the 8000 block of Misty River Court.

"Just after 6 p.m. tonight, we got a call from a family member stating that her brother had taken a bottle of pills and was suicidal and wanting to kill himself. She also told us that he had a long history of mental illness," Chronister said.

Griffin's girlfriend told investigators that he'd recently lost his wife and was struggling with health and financial issues.

When authorities arrived, the man came at a deputy who had entered the home, the sheriff said. The deputy tried to back off and "retreated out of the bedroom down the hallway, through the family room, outside of the house, through the yard, down the sidewalk, and into the neighbor's house where he was finally forced to deploy deadly force to protect his own life," the Sheriff said.

Griffin's girlfriend told Sheriff's investigators that the way Griffin was chasing the deputy "looked like something out of a horror film."

"There's no doubt in my mind that this was a justified shooting," the sheriff said.

Per standard procedure, the deputy involved, Nguyen Tran, has been placed on administrative leave as the shooting is investigated. Tran has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2016 and has only a traffic crash on his record, the agency says.

Chronister implored people to seek mental help if they're struggling mentally or emotionally.

"There is help available, and if you know someone who's struggling or someone who has some type of mental health deficiency, take the time to make sure that individual is getting the help so we can avoid incidents like this."

In the Tampa Bay area, you can call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay at 211.