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Hero Down: DEA Group Supervisor Michael Garbo Murdered On Amtrak Train

Tucson, AZ – U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Group Supervisor Michael Garbo was murdered in the line of duty on Monday while conducting a narcotics investigation on an Amtrak train.

The incident began at about 7:40 a.m. on Oct. 4 when an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans pulled into the downtown Tucson station near 400 North Toole Avenue, CNN reported.

Supervisor Garbo and other members of the regional Counter Narcotics Alliance (CAN) Task Force were at the station and boarded the train to do a routine interdiction check for illegal guns, drugs, and money, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said during a press conference on Monday afternoon.

He said officers “ultimately made contact with two individuals” who were on the upper level of one of the train cars.

According to court documents, Amtrak law enforcement officers had included the names of the two men on a list of individuals who needed to be followed up on in regards to potential criminal activity, The Arizona Republic reported.

They were identified as Devonte Mathis and “D.T.,” according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators said they spotted Mathis moving three bags to another location three or four rows away before he returned to his seat, The Arizona Republic reported.

An officer asked Mathis if the bags belonged to him and he denied they were his.

The officer then removed the bags from the train and located over five pounds of marijuana, 50 packages of Gooberz edibles, and various other marijuana and cannabis products inside, according to court documents.

As officers were detaining Mathis on the upper level of the train car, a second man pulled out “a handgun and opened fire on the officers,” Chief Magnus said.

Supervisor Garbo was shot in the attack.

The police chief said that a Tucson Police Department (TPD) K9 handler and his dog were on the station platform when the gunfire erupted inside the train.

He heralded the bravery of the officer on the platform who “ran directly into the dangerous situation in order to be whatever possible help he could.”

Chief Magnus told reporters that as the TPD officer “entered into the train, he was also shot.”

The police chief said the suspect exchanged rounds with the officers and then barricaded himself in the bathroom on the lower level of one of the train cars.

Officers eventually found the suspect deceased in the train bathroom.

A second suspect was taken into custody, according to the police chief.

The incident was captured on Virtual Railfan livestreaming cameras.

Amtrak said there were 137 passengers and 11 crew members on the train when the shooting started, CNN reported.

“There are no reported injuries to the crew or passengers,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Chief Magnus said that TPD officers transported the critically-wounded DEA agent to the hospital in the back of a patrol vehicle and the other wounded heroes were transported by ambulance.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram later released a statement confirming Supervisor Garbo died in the attack, The Arizona Republic reported.

“The DEA is deeply saddened to report that DEA Group Administrator Michael G. Garbo died as a result of injuries sustained during the shooting,” Administrator Milgram wrote.

The DEA confirmed on Tuesday that a wounded DEA special agent remains hospitalized at Banner University Medical Center in critical condition, The Arizona Republic reported.

The wounded TPD officer remains hospitalized at Banner University Medical Center in stable condition.

“We at the DEA are heartbroken by today’s events and ask that you keep the families of the agents and task force officer in your thoughts and prayers,” Administrator Milgram said.

Supervisor Garbo joined the DEA in 2005 after previously working for the Metro Nashville Police Department, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The longtime agent “served honorably for more than 16 years as a Special Agent and Group Supervisor combatting criminal drug traffickers from the Nogales corridor to Kabul, Afghanistan,” Administrator Milgram said, according to The Arizona Republic.

“Yesterday’s horrific shooting impacted the Tucson community and law enforcement family across Arizona,” the TPD said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “We mourn the loss of a heroic DEA Agent and ask that you keep his family, friends, and fellow agents in your hearts and prayers.”

“We are thankful for our partners at Banner University Medical Center, who are treating the injured DEA Agent and TPD Officer and to the Tucson community for their support,” the department said. “We are grateful and proud of our officers, who ran towards the sound of gunfire.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of Supervisor Garbo’s sacrifice, The Arizona Republic reported.

“Every day, law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line to keep Arizona and our nation safe,” Ducey said. “Group Supervisor Garbo died serving others in that heroic duty. He dedicated his career to protecting our communities from the trafficking of illegal drugs and the crime that accompanies them. He will be remembered for his exceptional service and the deep impact he had on all those who worked with him.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Group Supervisor Michael Garbo, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Group Supervisor Michael Garbo, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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