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Sheriff: Florida deputy killed while on duty was just 1 shift away from retirement

Master Corporal Brian LaVigne.png
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Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 17:08:09-05

BRANDON, Fla. — A Florida sheriff's deputy who was just days away from retirement died in the line of duty Monday evening.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies were responding to a call for service from management at the Paddock Club Apartments around 3:42 p.m. Monday.

The caller said the man had been throwing furniture and clothes out of his apartment window and front door. The caller also said this individual has threatened to harm staff in the past. Deputies were not able to make contact with the man and left the area.

About an hour later, deputies were called back to the apartment complex.

"The resident is now naked and throwing cookies at neighbors outside his apartment. Deputies arrived on scene and make contact," said Chronister.

The suspect, 28-year-old Travis Garrett, struck a deputy in the head with his fist, according to Chronister.

Chronister said deputies deployed a taser, but it was not effective.

Garrett left the area in his car and led deputies on a chase.

Chronister said Garrett was driving at a high rate of speed when he intentionally rammed into the driver's side of Corporal Brian LaVigne's car. There were no skid marks on the scene indicating trying to stop, the sheriff said.

"Mr. Garrett intentionally switches two lanes and goes into the turn lane to strike LaVigne's vehicle," said Chronister.

LaVigne, 54, was responding to the call for service.

Chronister said LaVigne was trapped inside his car and unresponsive. Deputies tried to get to him.

"The deputies can't get to him to perform life-saving measures. He's unconscious. They're doing everything they can from breaking windows and trying to crawl in through the back window, but the corporal was trapped," said Chronister.

Fire rescue used the Jaws of Life to free LaVigne out of the car. He was later taken to Tampa General Hospital where he died from his injuries.

"This Corporal was murdered, intentionally killed by Travis Garrett," Chronister said.

Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted his condolences about the incident:

WATCH SHERIFF CHAD CHRONISTER'S FULL PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW:

Hillsborough County deputy killed in the line of duty (ENTIRE PRESS CONFERENCE)

LaVigne was a 30-year veteran with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and was days away from retirement. Chronister said LaVigne had one more shift left.

"Cpl. LaVigne was a great family man, someone who served this community... mentoring the young troops. He had a passion for service," Chronister said.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters, one of who is also a Hillsborough County deputy, the sheriff said.

"Master Corporal Brian LaVigne has been a part of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office family since 1990, and he was just days away from retirement," said Chronister. "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."

The suspect Travis Garrett was charged with First Degree Felony Murder, DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer (2 counts), Resisting Arrest with Violence (2 counts), Felony Criminal Mischief, and Aggravated Fleeing to Elude.

This story was originally published by Lisette Lopez at WFTS.