Corporal Brian LaVigne had one shift left at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office before he was due to retire.
Instead, he was intentionally hit and killed by a man speeding away from deputies Monday, according to Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Chronister choked up at a news conference Monday night as he spoke about LaVigne’s three-decade career at the office, how he was set to work on Tuesday and then not again. He was 54 years old and is survived by his wife and two children, one of whom is a deputy at the sheriff’s office.
“You could only imagine the pain they’re going through being only one shift away from retirement,” Chronister said.
The crash happened in Brandon along West Lumsden Road near South King’s Avenue.
Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, is in custody in connection with the crash, but had not yet been charged late Monday, Chronister said.
Deputies were called to Garrett’s apartment regarding erratic behavior, which included him throwing furniture and clothing off his balcony at Paddock Club Brandon Apartments, about 3:45 p.m. Deputies spoke to Garrett through the door but being that no crime had been committed, they cleared the call and returned to service, Chronister said.
Deputies then got a second call about Garrett in which residents said he was nude and was throwing food at neighbors about 5 p.m., Chronister said. A caller said Garrett had threatened to harm staff at the apartments in the past.
When deputies responded, Garrett immediately began attacking them and hit deputy Michael Durig, Jr. in the head multiple times, according to the department. Multiple attempts to use a Taser on Garrett 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.
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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 was a field training officer who mentored young officers, including some who went on to high ranks in the sheriff’s office command staff.
“He had a passion for service,” Chronister said.
In 2016, LaVigne was shot at but was uninjured after stopping a man with a handgun to question him. At that point he had been with the agency for 25 years. The man who shot at LaVigne faced charges of attempted murder.
An investigation into the crash was still active late Monday night. Chronister said he expected multiple criminal charges to be filed against Garrett. He said the State Attorney’s Office was assisting with the investigation.
In a prepared statement, Chronister said: “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.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed condolences on behalf of him and his wife Casey in a tweet Tuesday morning: “@FLCaseyDeSantis & I are saddened to learn of the passing of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, who was killed in the line of duty. He served our state with distinction & the perpetrator must be brought to justice. Our prayers are with his family & the entire @HCSOSheriff family.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the target of threats previously made by Garrett, according to a person who called 911. That caller said Garrett had threatened staff at the apartments.