BRANDON, FL – A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy was killed on January 11th, with the deputy reportedly being just one more shift away from retiring from the sheriff’s office.
“Master Corporal Brian LaVigne was a part of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office family since 1990, and he was just one shift away from retirement. We will never forget Master Corporal LaVigne for laying down his life in the line of duty.” – Sheriff Chad Chronister pic.twitter.com/k9H256bDKF
— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) January 12, 2021
According to officials, 54-year-old Corporal Brian LaVigne was killed after 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett rammed his vehicle into Cpl. LaVigne’s patrol unit while the suspect was allegedly trying to flee law enforcement.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister stated that Cpl. LaVigne’s final day to report to the sheriff’s office was on January 12th – however, that day never came for Cpl. LaVigne.
Officials say that the suspect, Garrett, had been witnessed tossing the likes of clothing and furniture off of his balcony on the afternoon of January 11th – prompting neighbors and locals to contact the HCSO about the aforementioned.
Deputies from the HCSO responded to the residence where Garrett was reportedly tossing items from – but since there wasn’t really any crime being committed, deputies simply left the residence after speaking with Garrett.
However, locals contacted the HCSO once again, as Garrett was allegedly stark naked and hurling food at some of his neighbors. Thus, deputies responded a second time to the apartment complex where the suspect resided.
During said second interaction with law enforcement, Garrett was alleged to have been attacking deputies at the scene – reportedly striking Deputy Michael Durig several times in the face.
There were reported attempts to get the suspect under control, with even tasers being applied against Garrett that ultimately proved to be ineffective on the suspect.
From what Sheriff Chronister relayed regarding the then-rapidly evolving matter, Garrett had then hopped into a vehicle and then rammed through a back gate and crossed two lanes of traffic. The alleged erratic driving by Garrett resulted in him hitting Cpl. LaVigne’s marked patrol car on the driver’s side head-on.
Sheriff Chronister stated that Garrett was going, “as fast as he could make that car go,” when he struck Cpl. LaVigne’s unit. According to first responders familiar with the incident, the scene of the crash was so destructive that deputies couldn’t immediately assist Cpl. LaVigne.
It wasn’t until firefighters hit the scene that Cpl. LaVigne could be extracted from the mangled vehicle, where he was later pronounced deceased after being transported to a hospital for treatment.
After having spent spent over three decades at the department before his passing, Cpl. LaVigne leaves behind his wife and two children, one of whom is also a deputy at the sheriff’s office.
Garrett was said to have been taken into custody on the evening of January 11th, with there being numerous charges pending against the suspect.
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Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, three officers were killed and another injured following a carjacking. Here’s that previous report.
SAN JUAN, PR – A stop involving an alleged carjacking that took place in Puerto Rico’s capitol on January 11th resulted in three police officers being killed and one other being injured.
Three police officers were killed and a fourth was injured Monday near Puerto Rico’s capital following a carjacking, authorities said. https://t.co/MsK24ZnlR6
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) January 11, 2021
From what officials say of the incident, two of the slain officers were shot, while the third killed died as a result of being run over. How the fourth officer was injured during the incident has not been revealed.
Reports indicate that the currently at-large suspect commenced a carjacking in the northern city of Carolina, allegedly stealing a car from a woman. From there, officers attempted to stop the suspect in Isla Verde after a vehicular pursuit, where the suspect reportedly opened fire on the officers.
In a statement provided by Governor Pedro Pierluisi, the three slain officers were identified as Officers Luis Marrero, Luis Salamán and Eliezer Hernandez:
“I deeply regret the grief the families of these three heroes who were killed while doing their duty to protect the lives of everyone on our Island. These violent acts of contempt for life can’t have space in the Puerto Rico we want.”
“I have decreed three days of mourning in memory and honor of our brave police officers who lost their lives.”
“To all your families, my solidarity and my prayers for you to have the strength and comfort you need in these hard times. Our entire people mourn the departure of Luis Marrero, Luis Salamán and Eliezer Hernandez.”
As for the officer who was injured during the incident, Governor Pierluisi identified him as Officer Angel Luis Colón:
“I was able to speak with Officer Angel Luis Colón, who was injured [on January 11] in the line of duty, I expressed my wishes for recovery, and that his family and Puerto Rico need him.”
“I spoke with the Commissioner of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the
Secretary of the Department of Public Safety in the wake of [January 11’s] tragedy in which three brave police officers died in the line of duty.”
“This loss of life needs to end now. Our people and these families deserve more. The investigation will be carried out to identify the culprits so that they are tried to the fullest extent of the law.”
“We join together in prayer for them and hope that God will bring comfort and strength to their families.”
The investigation into the incident is still in the preliminary stages, and there hasn’t been many details released on what law enforcement officials know about the at-large suspect.
When commenting on the matter, Captain José González of the PRPB remarked on how this incident was one of the most substantial attacks on law enforcement in Puerto Rico in recent memory:
“I’ve never had a scene like this.”
Authorities did say that the vehicle the suspect had allegedly stolen has since been recovered, but no other information outside of that aspect has been shared.
Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we gather further insight into this developing investigation.
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Author: Gregory Hoyt