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Hero Down: Hillsborough Co. Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne Killed One Day From Retirement

Brandon, FL – Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Master Corporal Brian LaVigne was killed in the line of duty on Monday afternoon when a fleeing suspect intentionally slammed his vehicle into the driver’s side of his patrol car.

Cpl. LaVigne, 54, was one day shy of retirement when he was killed, ABC News reported.

The incident began at approximately 3:42 p.m. on Jan. 11 when HCSO received a report that a man was “throwing property out of his apartment window and front door” at the Paddock Club Apartments, ABC News reported.

The suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, had allegedly threatened to harm himself on prior occasions, according to HCSO.

Deputies responded to the scene, but determined they had no reason to arrest Garrett.

The deputies left the area, only to be called back for a second disturbance about 90 minutes later, ABC News reported.

The second time, the caller reported that the same suspect was running around naked and behaving erratically, according to the HCSO.

Deputies returned to the apartment complex and tried to establish a dialogue with Garrett, but he became combative and attacked HCSO Deputy Michael Durig, hitting him multiple times.

His partner, HCSO Deputy Adam Pautz, then “deployed his Taser once without success,” at which point Deputy Durig deployed his Taser twice, “also without success,” the department said in a statement to ABC News.

Garrett then allegedly jumped into a vehicle and sped off, leading the deputies on a chase.

The suspect crashed through a gate at the back of the apartment complex, then headed west down Lumsden Road, WTVT reported.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, Garrett honed in on Cpl. LaVigne as the veteran deputy responded to the area, and allegedly changed his course to target him.

Sheriff Chronister said that Garrett abruptly crossed over two lanes of traffic at a high rate of speed, and slammed his vehicle into the driver’s side of Cpl. LaVigne’s patrol car, according to WTVT.

The corporal was knocked unconscious during the collision, and ended up trapped inside the mangled wreckage.

“Fellow deputies worked heroically to try and tend to his injuries, while Hillsborough County Fire Rescue attempted to extricate Master Corporal LaVigne for several minutes,” Sheriff Chronister said.

They were able to free the injured corporal and rushed him to Tampa General Hospital, ABC News reported.

“Despite their courageous efforts and those on frontlines at Tampa General Hospital, Master Corporal LaVigne passed away while in the line of duty,” the sheriff confirmed.

Garrett was also transported to the hospital with minor injuries, and is expected to face multiple charges, WTVT reported.

The HCSO’s investigation into the fatal attack remains ongoing, according to ABC News.

Cpl. LaVigne, a 31-year veteran of the department, was due to work one last shift on Jan. 13 before retiring from the sheriff’s office, WTVT reported.

“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,” Sheriff Chronister said, according to ABC News. “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 sheriff said the department will “honor him as a hero and for the service he left behind – as a teacher, as a mentor, and again, someone who unselfishly served this community,” according to CNN.

Cpl. LaVigne leaves behind his wife and two adult daughters, one of whom is also a HCSO deputy, KTVT reported.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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