The man accused of killing a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy by ramming his car Monday night faces a slew of charges, including first-degree murder, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, was fleeing deputies who responded to his Brandon apartment Monday when he crossed two lanes of traffic and slammed into the driver’s side of a marked car driven by Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, Sheriff Chad Chronister said. LaVigne was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died of his injuries. He had worked for the Sheriff’s Office for three decades and was one shift away from retirement.
In addition to the murder charge, Garrett faces charges of: DUI manslaughter; vehicular homicide; two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, for fighting with the deputies who responded to his apartment; two counts of resisting arrest with violence; felony criminal mischief; and aggravated fleeing to elude.
Garrett was taken to the hospital after the crash, and he remained there Tuesday morning, deputies said. No update on his condition was given.
The chain of events began when deputies were called to Paddock Club Brandon Apartments at 3:45 p.m. Monday. Deputies were told Garrett had been throwing clothes and furniture off his balcony, they said. They spoke to Garrett through the door, confirmed no crime had been committed and cleared the call.
A little over an hour later, Chronister said, deputies received another call about Garrett being nude and throwing food at neighbors. Two deputies said that when they responded, Garrett attacked them, hitting one of them in the head multiple times. Both deputies tried to use a Taser on him but were unsuccessful.
Garrett got into a car, rammed through a back gate and fled out of the apartment complex. Then he crossed two lanes of traffic to intentionally hit LaVigne’s marked patrol car on the driver side with the front of his car, Chronister said.
“He had never hit the brakes,” Chronister said. “There were no skid marks. He was intentionally running that car into the corporal’s car.”
Deputies were unable to immediately reach LaVigne, who was unresponsive, to implement life-saving measures because of the severity of the crash. Firefighters used tools to free him, and he was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Garrett has no criminal history in Hillsborough, had an unprocessed aggravated assault charge from Georgia and had been Baker Acted in Pasco County in 2017, Chronister said.
LaVigne, a field training officer who mentored young deputies, is survived by a wife and two children, one of whom is also a deputy.
“This is one of the most difficult times we have faced as a Sheriff’s Office, losing one of our family members to such a senseless act of violence,” Chronister said in a statement Tuesday. “We continue to mourn this loss with both the LaVigne family, our Sheriff’s Office family, and our community. Our focus remains intent on seeking justice for the murder of Master Corporal LaVigne, and celebrating an individual who devoted his life to public service.
This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.