Search for Marijuana on Amtrak Train Leads to Deadly Shooting in Arizona

A deadly shooting on an Amtrak train over contraband cannabis has left the Arizona and law enforcement community reeling.

A deadly shooting aboard an Amtrak train in Arizona on Monday occurred following a search for marijuana by law enforcement officers, according to court documents filed in the case. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Michael Garbo and a suspect only identified as D.T. were killed and two agents were wounded in the shooting at the Amtrak station in Tucson, Arizona on Monday morning.

A criminal complaint filed in the case in Arizona district court on Tuesday explains that agents boarded the train after it arrived at the station to search for drugs, contraband cash and weapons. Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, Train 2 was headed from New Orleans to Los Angeles, arriving in Tucson at 7:40 a.m.

The DEA agents and police officers with the Pima County Counter Narcotics Alliance were investigating a tip from Amtrak about a list of individuals traveling from Los Angeles to Texas. Agents observed two men on the list, D.T. and Devonte Okeith Mathis, sitting near each other on the train. 

Agents watched as Mathis moved three bags about three or four rows away from where the men were sitting before returning to his original seat, the criminal complaint alleges. When agents asked Mathis if the bags were his, he denied ownership, and the agents removed the bags from the train.

More than Five Pounds of Pot Found on Train

When agents opened the bags on the train platform, they found two packages of marijuana, including 2.39 kilograms (more than five pounds) of cannabis flower, 50 packs of marijuana edibles and other cannabis products. 

According to media reports, officers then reboarded the train and attempted to detain Mathis on the upper level of a double-decker train car. At that point, D.T. pulled out a handgun and began firing, striking the DEA agents. The gunman then ran downstairs and locked himself in the restroom on the first level of the train car as agents and police officers returned fire. The suspect was later discovered dead in the restroom.

The Tucson Police Department has told the Arizona Republic that the investigation into the shooting has been taken over by the FBI. Brooke Brennan, a spokesperson for the agency, said that the FBI is processing the scene of the shooting with the assistance of Tucson police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

DEA Agent Killed, Two Law Enforcement Officers Wounded in Shooting

Two other law enforcement officers were also injured in the shooting and taken to a hospital. A DEA special agent and a Tucson police officer working on the task force are both in stable condition, according to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, who also reported Garbo’s death.

“The DEA is deeply saddened to report that DEA Group Supervisor Michael G. Garbo died as a result of injuries sustained during the shooting,” Milgram said in a press release on Tuesday. “Group Supervisor Garbo joined DEA in 2005 and served honorably for more than 16 years as a Special Agent and Group Supervisor combating criminal drug traffickers from the Nogales corridor to Kabul, Afghanistan.”

At the time of the shooting, 137 passengers and 11 crew members were aboard the Sunset Limited, according to a report from CNN. No injuries were reported among the passengers and crew, according to Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams, and all were evacuated from the train.

“I just think it’s kind of incredible here there weren’t other people who were hurt, even though we’re completely so saddened by the loss of the officer,” Magnus said.

The Tucson Police Department wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that “yesterday’s horrific shooting impacted the Tucson community and law enforcement family across Arizona. 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 also thankful for the Tucson community for their support. We are grateful and proud of our officers, who ran towards the sound of gunfire.”

Mathis is accused of possessing with the intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing marijuana, according to the court filing.

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