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Ashes of Army veteran, retired LAPD officer stolen from widow’s house during burglary

LANCASTER, CA– The ashes of a fallen Los Angeles police detective were stolen from his widow’s home, leaving a Lancaster family heartbroken.

The break-in occurred on February 4th when the burglars broke into the widow’s home, stealing a safe and her most precious possession: a wooden box containing her husband’s ashes, retired Los Angeles Police Detective Dan Moran. 

The family said that the burglar also stole some coins and various other valuables, but that they only thing they are desperate to have returned to them are his ashes. Steve LaFlower, the victim’s nephew said:

“She’s totally devastated and I can’t imagine what she’s going through. She just needs him back. That’s her husband, the love of her life.”

According to his family, Det. Moran spent most of his 43-year law enforcement career serving at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys station. LaFlower said:

“Right out of high school, he joined the Army as a military police officer. When he was discharged, he joined the LAPD. He served for 43 years and retired in 2007.”

He added:

“He was always a hero to everybody, literally everybody.”

The longtime detective passed away the year after he retired. He suffered a stroke in 2008, just three months into his retirement, leaving behind his wife of 30 years. LaFlower said:

“She moved up to Lancaster shortly after, she couldn’t stay in the house they lived in.”

The 70-year-old widow’s sense of security in Lancaster was shattered when the strangers broke in through her windows, ransacked her home, and stole the safe containing her late husband’s ashes. Relatives said the loss of his ashes is heartbreaking.

LaFlower said that in addition to being concerned for her safety, they’re also going through the grieving process all over again. LaFlower said:

“It’s as if we’ve lost him again, the grieving process has started all over again.”

He added:

“It’s like stealing somebody’s grave. When you go to the loved one and you talk to your loved one at the grave. It’s like that going to the urn. I would hold the urn and tell him I love him, I miss him.”

For LaFlower, it’s all about getting his uncle back to his aunt. He said:

“She just wants them to have a heart and realize how important this is to her and the whole family and just return it. No questions asked.”

Anyone who finds the wooden boxed with Det. Moran’s ashes is being asked to take it to a police department, no questions asked. LaFlower said they can also contact him directly at 661-478-6089.

In a separate incident, a Macomb County man had to grieve not only his father’s untimely death, but the theft of his father’s remains and the rest of his belongings.

Justin’s father, Daniel, died on January 2nd and just before 12:30 a.m. the next day, his father’s Jeep was stolen with part of his father’s ashes and all his father’s belongings. Justin said:

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“I don’t care about the car. There’s paintings in there of my father. My father was in the Pentagon when it got hit. He was on the fifth floor. His office was completely demolished by the airplane that day.”

Daniel was a retired Navy veteran who became even more of a hero in 9/11. Justin is offering a $15,000 reward for his father’s belongings. Justin had just picked up his father’s ashes and belongings the morning before the theft, including the Jeep itself.

Plans were being made to make sure his father remains were honorably laid to rest. Justin said:

“Half of him is going to be buried at sea. The other half is going to be here at the Great Lakes National Cemetery.”

The hope is that everything can be returned or at the very least, his father’s ashes. He said:

“I felt like a part of me left with that. I don’t care if the car isn’t drivable. I just want all the stuff that’s inside of it. I mean it’s everything.”
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Florida officer hit with stolen car, sent airborne. Police rush in and take down driver – and it was all caught on camera.

January 22nd, 2021

BRADENTON, FL – A woman is facing attempted murder charges after slamming into a Manatee County deputy with a stolen vehicle as she attempted to flee police. The deputy suffered serious injuries as she was thrown into the air landing on the vehicle’s hood and windshield.

The terrifying event was caught on camera from a police helicopter hovering overhead.

 

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said the incident began Wednesday after deputies located a stolen white Ford Taurus in the parking lot of a South Bradenton strip mall. Officers were searching for the vehicle after it was involved in a traffic accident earlier in the day and fled from police.

As deputies approached the vehicle to take the driver into custody, the suspect attempted to drive forward to exit the parking lot. A deputy parked her squad car in the path of the fleeing vehicle. The driver reversed away from the deputy’s car.

Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells commented about Vanfossen’s actions:

“She (the suspect) doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Every time we tried to pull her over, she’d drive erratically and do what she could to get out of here.”

The deputy exited her vehicle and gave commands for the driver to stop. The driver suddenly accelerated forward rapidly and struck the deputy, causing the deputy to be propelled onto the hood and windshield of the stolen vehicle.

The suspect continued to accelerate the vehicle forward with the deputy on the hood. The suspect’s vehicle rammed into another police vehicle and came to a stop.  The collision caused the deputy to be thrown hard onto the pavement.

The driver was then taken into custody by other deputies at the scene.

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The deputy suffered various serious injuries during the incident and was transported to an area hospital for treatment. Police said the deputy was in good condition and was expected to be released.

Katarina Vanfossen, 23, was charged with second-degree attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, motor vehicle theft, fleeing to elude, and leaving the scene of a crash.

Sheriff Rick Wells said he regretted his deputy was unable to shoot the suspect to protect herself.

“The suspect accelerated and tried to ram through a very small spot, something that was never going to happen. It happened so quick that she didn’t even have time to neutralize the threat. She was justified to shoot at that suspect, I wish that she would have been able to, but she didn’t have time.”

Wells said he was upset about the violence toward his deputy and law enforcement nationwide, including the death of Hillsborough Corporal Brian LaVigne. Corporal LaVigne was killed in Brandon, Florida on January 11, one day short of retirement. The Corporal was killed when a suspect fleeing police in a vehicle struck his police vehicle.

Sheriff Wells said:

“That’s what I think about, that Hillsborough County deputy was unable to react as well. My deputy was unable to react and we’re just thankful she’s still alive, but we continue to see this violence against law enforcement officers in this country and I’m sick of it.

“It could have been a lot worse. I was just grateful she was not seriously, seriously injured.”

Sheriff Wells said he would object to any plea bargains or deals for Vanfossen:

“She needs to be put in prison and I will do everything in my power to make sure those charges are not reduced, that there’s no plea bargain. She needs to do the time because my deputy is lucky to be alive and I’m aggravated and I’m angry about it.”

The injured deputy’s name was not released.

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Florida deputy killed just one shift before he was set to retire

January 12, 2021

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. 

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. 

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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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