First Responders

Gunfire on a Tucson Train: 1 DEA Agent Dead, 2 Others Wounded

October 6, 2021Joshua Skovlund
Darrion Taylor train shootout drug enforcement administration

A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent died in a shooting at the Amtrak station in downtown Tucson, Arizona, early Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Screenshot from YouTube video; badge photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

Authorities continue to probe the death of a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was shot and killed Monday, Oct. 4, in a Tucson, Arizona, train station.

In a prepared statement emailed to Coffee or Die Magazine on Tuesday afternoon, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram identified the slain agent as DEA group supervisor Michael G. Garbo, a 16-year veteran of the agency who was well known for his work combatting criminal narcotics traffickers in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Nogales Corridor south of Tucson.

Milgram didn’t identify the fellow DEA agent and the DEA task force officer from the Tucson Police Department who were also shot in the Monday melee aboard an Amtrak train.

The surviving DEA agent remains in critical condition. The police officer is listed as stable.

The man who allegedly shot them died on the train from gunshot wounds. Authorities have not released his name to the public.

“Group Supervisor Garbo’s operational expertise, mentorship, and leadership were legendary in the Tucson community,” Milgram wrote. “With unparalleled talent and courage, he carried out duties ranging from tactical instruction to serving as a member of the Phoenix Field Division Special Response Team. Across DEA, Group Supervisor Garbo was universally loved and respected for his leadership, and for his unrelenting passion to protect the safety of the American people. Above all else, he was a devoted and loving father and husband. DEA mourns the loss of our beloved colleague.”

Tucson Chief of Police Chris Magnus told reporters Monday that several task force officers boarded the train around 8 a.m. Monday to perform a routine interdiction check for narcotics, unlawful firearms, and money.

“This is something they do, as I said, routinely at pretty much all transit hubs,” Magnus said. 

The task force officers “ultimately made contact” with one man and detained him on the second deck of the passenger train, Magnus said.

A second man in the train opened fire on the officers.

Caught on video, the footage shows a Tucson Police K9 officer running into the fray after four initial shots echo through the car.

“I also want to reflect on the really heroic actions of the officers at the scene, who literally ran towards the danger into the car, where there was an active shooting situation going on,” Magnus said. 

The officer can be seen near the train side door where he entered the car. More gunshots ring out, and then he retreats to cover outside the train.

A shooter is shown running for cover, firing shots at the officer.

Authorities said the man had barricaded himself in a restroom on the first deck of the train. It remains unclear when the gunman was shot, but he died inside the restroom, Magnus said.

Once officers confirmed the unidentified gunman was dead, a police car rushed the critically wounded DEA agent to a nearby emergency room.

“I really want to reflect first on the terrible tragedy that this is,” Magnus said. “Not just for the DEA, obviously, but for everyone in law enforcement. It’s really horrific, and we’re all just coming to terms with just how terrible of a loss this is.”

The three wounded law enforcement members belonged to the regional Counter Narcotics Alliance, a drug task force staffed by both Tucson Police Department officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents. 

No bystanders or passengers on the train were hurt during the shooting. 

Retired DEA agents took to social media Tuesday to remind the public that the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund helps widowed DEA spouses and their children in the aftermath of tragedies such as Monday’s shooting.

Those who click on the donation button can mention Garbo, his fellow special agent, and the Tucson police officer in the comments section. That will send all of the donated funds to their families.

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Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

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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