TAMPA, Fla. - A Hillsborough County deputy, a 31-year veteran on the force, was one shift away from retiring when he was killed in the line of duty Monday.
A man was fleeing deputies when he crashed a vehicle into 54-year-old Corporal Brian LaVigne’s driver’s side, Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
"On top of investigating what exactly occurred with the crash investigation," Chronister said, "we have to deal with the funeral and planning the proper funeral after his corporal was murdered, intentionally killed by Travis Garrett -- one shift away from retirement."
Authorities had been responding to calls about erratic behavior at an apartment complex when 28-year-old Travis Garrett attacked them, Chronister said.
Monday’s deadly crash started with calls for help from neighbors concerned about a strange and increasing violent behavior of a man – later identified as 28-year-old Garrett -- living at Paddock Club Apartments, located at 921 Paddock Club Drive in Brandon, FOX 13 reports.
Neighbors had complained he was throwing food at them from his balcony. When deputies arrived, they said Garrett was nude and became combative with officers.
Sheriff Chronister said he struck one of the responding deputies several times in the head, knocking him to the ground. That’s when deputies tried to stop Garrett with stun guns, but the suspect was unphased.
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Then, Garrett took off in a vehicle, crashing through an apartment gate. He sped away traveling west on Lumsden Road from deputies, the sheriff said. During this time, LaVigne answered the call for backup.
Moments later, Chronister said Garrett sped up, crossed two lanes of traffic, and intentionally rammed his car into the driver’s side of LaVigne's marked cruiser. LaVigne was unconscious and trapped in his cruiser.
The impact caused severe injuries that the nearly 31-year veteran deputy could not survive. LaVigne was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died.
Garrett has been arrested in the crash.
Master Corporal LaVigne was retiring after 30 years at the office. He joined the agency in 1990. He is survived by his wife and two children -- one of whom is also a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The Associated Press and FOX 13 contributed to this report.
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