A Florida deputy who was one shift away from retirement was killed in the line of duty Monday after a suspect rammed his vehicle into the officer’s patrol car, authorities said.
Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, 54, had been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years and had just one shift left before he was set to retire, according to authorities.
Police said 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett intentionally rammed his vehicle into LaVigne’s cruiser “at a high rate of speed.” (RELATED: Capitol Police Officer Dies Days After Riot, Reports Allege Suicide)
The crash left LaVigne trapped in his cruiser as fellow officers attempted to tend to his wounds while the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue tried to extricate LaVigne for several minutes. LaVigne was pronounced dead at the Tampa General Hospital.
“We will never forget Master Corporal LaVigne for laying down his life in the line of duty or the response of his squad members who did everything they could to ensure that the individual responsible for his death was apprehended,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
Police originally received a 9-1-1 call from management at Paddock Club Apartments in Brandon, which is near Tampa. The caller said Garrett had been throwing items out of his apartment window and door, according to police. The caller also warned that Garrett had threatened staff members in the past. Deputies who arrived at the scene spoke to Garrett but said there was no reason to arrest him.
Approximately an hour and a half later, police received another call from a neighbor who reported that Garrett was acting erratically and was naked. Management also called to report the same issue.
Upon arrival, Garrett became combative with officers and hit Deputy Michael Durig Jr., multiple times, police said. Both Durig and fellow Deputy Adam Pautz unsuccessfully tried to taser Garrett.
Garrett then fled the scene in a car, with Durig and Pautz chasing him. Garrett managed to evade officers by crashing through one of the apartment complex’s gated entrances and was headed down Lumsden Road where witnesses said he intentionally slammed into LaVigne’s vehicle, according to police.
LaVigne is survived by his wife and two adult children, one of whom is a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Garrett has been charged with first-degree murder, DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, criminal mischief, aggravated fleeing to elude, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, and two counts of resisting arrest with violence, according to Fox 13.