Deborah Martinez-Garibay took a group photo on April 26, 2021, following the presentation PGA Pro, Susie Meyers, gave to them at the El Rio Golf Course in Tucson, Arizona. PGA HOPE Tucson chapter photo.
Deborah Martinez-Garibay, the Arizona constable gunned down last week in Tucson, is being remembered as a badass, red-lipstick-wearing, wonder-woman US Army veteran who loved serving her country.
“You can't replace her energy. She was just special,” said Michael “Mike” Ramsey, a transition patient advocate in the US Department of Veterans Affairs Southern Arizona Healthcare System who first met Martinez-Garibay six years ago at a Team Red, White, and Blue event.
Authorities said a Tucson apartment tenant, Gavin Lee Stansell, shot and killed Martinez-Garibay and complex manager Angela Fox-Heath on Aug. 25, when they tried to serve an eviction notice on him.
Detectives believe Stansell then killed his neighbor, Elijah Miranda, before turning the weapon on himself.
In 2017, Deborah Martinez-Garibay and Mike Ramsey visited a local radio station to promote the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter. Photo courtesy of the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter.
A US Army reservist, Martinez-Garibay served as a human intelligence collector from 2003 to 2019, including in a deployment to Afghanistan. She left the service as a staff sergeant.
Martinez‐Garibay, 43, was appointed the constable for Pima County’s Justice Precinct 8 on March 15, 2022. A Democrat, she won her primary on Aug. 2 and was slated to compete in the general runoff for the elected position.
Ramsey told Coffee or Die Magazine that Martinez-Garibay was a leader who “really makes an impact right away,” including in her work on Tucson’s Helping Our Patriots Everywhere, a charitable initiative launched by the Professional Golfers' Association of America.
“She made people want to come back,” Ramsey said.
In 2019, The Highlands at Dove Mountain members hosted the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter for a tournament, raising more than $10,000 for the chapter. Photo courtesy of the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter.
Selected as a program ambassador in 2021, Martinez-Garibay wooed local PGA pros to volunteer to instruct veteran groups. They hold two sessions a year, with about 20 veterans every session. Each session lasts six to eight weeks, and the group meets weekly.
If vets needed equipment, Martinez-Garibay canvassed Tucson businesses and golf organizations for donations, including golf club sets.
“She's one of those people that will get you to do stuff that you're, like, 'No way in hell I'm doing that.' Next thing you know, you're doing it and having fun doing it,” Ramsey said. “But that's just kind of the way she was.”
She was also never shy about voicing an opinion and sticking with it. Ramsey recalled the time a PGO pro urged her to use a 7-iron on a shot, but she insisted on her driver.
“She would not hesitate to laugh at herself as loud as she can,” Ramsey said. “She poked fun at you as well but always in a good way, never in a mean way. You know, talk smack about the different branches.”
On Aug. 21, 2022, the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter held a session for several veterans at the at Ventana Canyon Club & Lodge, located in Tucson, Arizona. Photo courtesy of the Professional Golfers' Association of America Helping Our Patriots Everywhere Tucson chapter.
Martinez-Garibay was born Sept. 2, 1978, in Tucson, to Joe and Margaret Martinez.
She is survived by her parents; husband, Gabriel Garibay; daughter, Ryane Michelle; and sisters, Connie Hall, Michelle LaVetter, and Joanna Caballero.
She was preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Danielle Joanna, the child she called “Dani Jo.”
A funeral Mass was held for Martinez-Garibay at Tucson’s St. Augustine Cathedral on Thursday, Sept. 1.
“She was a fun person to be around,” Ramsey said. "Everybody around her was included. You know, nobody was ever left out. If she liked you, you were family."
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Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.
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