First Responders

Medical Examiner Names Gunman Who Killed DEA Agent on Arizona Train

October 7, 2021Carl Prine
DEA garbo tucson

DEA Supervisory Special Agent Michael Garbo died Oct. 4, 2021, after a man opened fire on an Amtrak train in Tucson. Photo courtesy of the Buckeye Police Department; composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

The slain gunman suspected of killing a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent and wounding two other law enforcement officials during a Monday, Oct. 4, shootout at an Arizona train station is Darrion Taylor, 26.

Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. David Hess told Coffee or Die Magazine that it’s unclear where Taylor resided before his death, but it wasn’t Tucson. He listed the cause of death as gunshot wounds to the trunk and extremities.

The wounds were not self-inflicted. Taylor’s body was released on Wednesday and a more detailed report will be issued by Hess in November.

Taylor was on board an Amtrak train that had stopped in Tucson when he encountered DEA group supervisor Michael Garbo, a 16-year veteran of the agency known for his work combating criminal narcotics traffickers in Afghanistan and throughout the Nogal Corridor south of Tucson.

In the melee that followed, Garbo was fatally wounded. A fellow DEA special agent who has been identified only by the initials “SF” by authorities was taken to a nearby hospital where he was listed in critical condition.  

A third victim termed “PH” in federal court documents is a Tucson Police Department officer assigned to Garbo’s DEA task force. He also was wounded but was in stable condition.

No train passengers or station bystanders were injured in the shootout.

The DEA task force team had been performing a routine interdiction check for narcotics, unlawful firearms, and money when the gunfire erupted, according to Tucson Chief of Police Chris Magnus.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Devonte Okeith Mathis in federal district court in Tucson with two marijuana distribution charges.

According to court records, the DEA agents and the Pima County Counter Narcotics Alliance had responded to a tip from Amtrak about several passengers, including Mathis and Taylor, who were on a train bound from California to Texas.

At the scheduled stop in Tucson, an agent boarded the train and allegedly saw Taylor and Mathis, 22, sitting in the same row but on opposite sides of the aisle. The unnamed agent reported that Mathis retrieved a blue backpack, a black drawstring bag, and a white plastic sack, then moved with the luggage three or four rows away before returning to his seat, according to the criminal complaint. 

The agent asked Mathis if they were his bags, and he replied that they weren’t. The agent took the luggage off the train and allegedly discovered two packages of bulk marijuana in the backpack.

A search warrant for the bags later revealed 2.39 kilograms of raw marijuana, 50 packages totaling 175 grams of “Gooberz” pot edibles, and other cannabis products.

While Mathis was being interviewed, the DEA’s Garbo and another agent spoke with Taylor and conducted what authorities say was a “consensual K-9 sniff of several bags” on the train station platform, the records indicate.  

Taylor left them and boarded the train again. Once the agent identified the marijuana in the backpack, however, the agents went to find Taylor. They met up with him on the upper deck of the train car. That’s where Garbo and “SF” were shot, according to the court filing.

Tucson Police Department officers responded to the gunfire and Taylor “was subsequently shot and killed, after firing a weapon at additional officers,” the records state.

Following a brief video hearing before US Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman in Tucson on Wednesday, Mathis was remanded to the US Marshals for pretrial confinement. 

On Thursday, the public defenders representing Mathis declined comment to Coffee or Die.

Texas court records indicate that Mathis is from the Dallas suburbs.

Tucson Police officials said they were not investigating the incident and referred Coffee or Die to the FBI Phoenix field office. Agents there did not return messages seeking comment.

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

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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