Governor orders flags at half-staff to honor slain Tampa officer

Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering flags at half-staff on Tuesday to honor a slain Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy killed in the line of duty, only days away from retirement. 

HCSO Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne was killed while assisting fellow deputies on a call when an individual fleeing the scene struck his vehicle. LaVigne, 54, served the Sheriff’s Office for more than thirty years, and was set to retire that week. 

To honor LaVigne, DeSantis is ordering the U.S. and state of Florida flags to be flown at half-staff at both the Hillsborough County Courthouse and the state Capitol on Tuesday. 

LaVigne was a recipient of the Medal of Valor and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, among other awards recognizing his efforts to protect the community.

News of his death elicited responses from Florida political leaders, including DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott and House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Upon the news of his death, DeSantis tweeted, saying he and his wife were “saddened to learn of the passing” of LaVigne, and insisting “the perpetrator must be brought to justice.”

Scott echoed the sentiments, saying in a tweet he was, “heartbroken by the loss of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, who was intentionally targeted and killed in the line of duty. Corporal LaVigne dedicated his life to protecting our families, and this kind of attack is truly disgusting. My prayers are with his loved ones.”

The deputy died while responding to a call at the Paddock Club Apartments, where a caller reported that 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett was nude and acting erratically.

After failed attempts to calm the man down, Garrett fled in his car to Lumsden Road, where, according to several witnesses, he “intentionally rammed” into an HSCO vehicle with LaVigne inside. The Sheriff’s Office has charged Garrett with first degree felony murder, DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and several other related charges. Garrett does not have an arrest history in Hillsborough County, but was previously Baker Acted in Pasco County.

LaVigne is survived by his wife and two adult children, one of whom is also a deputy with the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.

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