Sheriff: Slain Trying to Protect the Public, Deputy ‘Stepped Up…Like Cops Do!’

By Stephen Owsinski

Yet another occasion to recite the “enough is enough” cry is upon us, and it is once again in my neck of the woods where the community recently said goodbye to Hillsborough County Deputy Brian LaVigne after he was intentionally rammed and killed by a fleeing felon.

In stark resemblance, tragedy played out again in Tampa Bay.

The photograph above depicts the cruiser assigned to Pinellas County (Florida) Deputy Sheriff Michael “Mike” Magli whose 30-year-old body was violently impacted by a drunken driver fleeing other law enforcement officers trying to preserve public safety.

Listening to the pursuit route and PCSO colleagues’ chatter via police radio, Deputy Magli was located ahead of the chase. With quick-thinking so requisite in police work, he pulled his cruiser into a grassy median, positioned himself to deploy stop sticks across the roadway, and intended to puncture/deflate the suspect’s tires and conclude perilous behavior.

It ended there. Tragically, so did Deputy Magli’s life.

(Deputy Michael “Mike” Magli 30. Photo courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.)

Like many other cops’ kids whose dad didn’t come home like he always did before, Magli’s two young daughters are now scarred by circumstances they are too young to even begin to comprehend. Magli’s wife abruptly bears the trauma of a LEO husband whose final day serving others will require a lifelong journey rife with pain and anguish and confusion and many things no human ought to be saddled with…understandably paralyzed by picking up the pieces shattered by one brazen criminal.

The suspect’s maniacal driving caused him to lose control of his vehicle which wound up spinning and flipping in a trajectory in which Deputy Magli was positioned. The velocity of the bad guy’s automobile was just too hasty for a human to dodge. Deputy Magli was struck and then wound up under the suspect car after it flipped and became a halted heap.

So darn typical, the suspect survived with nary a scratch…even after his car spun and rolled and killed a cop and landed indistinguishable (other than what used to be a white pickup, in which he reportedly resided since being released from Florida state prison).

The 33-year-old inebriated suspect, Robert Allen Holzaepfel, within nine minutes of being found asleep behind the wheel, then awakened at a red light, then running from the law…ultimately erased a community-serving LEO from the earth.

As reported by the Fox13 News, the insidiousness of bad actors and their poorest of decisions endangering the public tolled heavily in this coastal county which now chronicled its first-ever line-of-duty death of one of its guardians:

“Around 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said Pinellas County first responders received a report about a person ‘passed out’ in their vehicle near Forelock Road. East Lake Fire Rescue responded and found Holzaepfel, who appeared to be unconscious in a white pickup truck. [Observing what appeared to be a medical emergency], the crews broke the window to get him out, but, as they did, the man woke up and sped off.”

Reporting this factor to the sheriff’s office, it escalated from a fire rescue call to a police matter, one in which the public at large were now in the crosshairs.

The chase was on.

Akin to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is a tough-on-crime police executive. Despite Gualtieri’s galvanized shell from decades of law enforcement experience, his press conference outlining what happened and how Deputy Magli lost his life is understandably hampered by deep emotion:

As Sheriff Gualtieri punctuated akin to many have before, “To say it is a tragedy is an understatement…there’s no words that can make any sense of it.” And that will be the infinite burden upon the hearts and souls of Deputy Magli’s loved ones —especially his children— and colleagues who will once again return to the sometimes mean streets as avowed.

Included in the arrest report was Holzaepfel’s maritime mindset indicative of future plans and zero remorse for murdering a LEO. The arresting deputy recorded the following in his report: “The defendant’s main concern was whether the U.S. Coast Guard would still accept him.”

It’s safe to say he sunk that dream…probably long ago when he cast a life of crime and netted 16 felonies. No anchors aweigh for this cop killer, just being put away (hopefully for good this time).

While this (ahem) man muses over his future while wearing handcuffs, some trolls came out from the darkness and threw shade of their own. While a post-incident procession of law enforcement cruisers escorted fallen Deputy Magli’s body to the county medical examiner’s office and then lined the sallyport as the ambulance rolled by, a Facebook Live poster commented “My condolences to his family. But isn’t this a bit much?”

(Deputy Michael Magli’s body arrives at medical examiner’s office. Photo courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.)

Yeah, takes all kinds…leaving some to wonder about humanity. Yet good prevails. Area merchants have already commenced efforts to help support the Magli family, one offering Pinellas County Sheriff’s Star tumblers created and offered for sale by a local merchant.

Other area businesses are aggregating gift cards and coordinating “meal trains” to ensure the Magli family a steady supply of food and resources as they endure the days ahead.

Per the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office site, a memorial fund is being developed to help support Deputy Magli’s loved ones. A GoFundMe is already in place to support the Maglis.

Good also triumphs via the strength, fortitude, and professional constitutions of law enforcement legacy, whereby cops return to the streets despite indelible battle scars and horrific encounters in which they suffered casualty. Despite the depraved actions causing yet another LEO his life and/or the seemingly insensitive anti-police words cast by phantoms on social media, law enforcement personnel contain themselves as best possible and prep for the next call(s). No different than Deputy Magli did on Wednesday morning when he kissed his wife and children goodbye, unknowingly for the last time.

Yet, as Sheriff Gualtieri cited, all that’s changed because of “some jerk who killed a deputy” and had no business freely roaming society in a pickup full of havoc.

Here again, someone who has a heavy criminal history and was out on parole winds up killing another, in this case a LEO. It is crystal clear that the likes of politicos who favor this catch-and-release mentality, soften the penal spine so victims are revictimized, and coddle criminals for the sake of pander and powerful office-holding…are an equal scourge.

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