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DEA agent dead following shooting onboard Amtrak train in Tucson

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TUCSON (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- A Drug Enforcement Administration special agent is dead after a passenger, who also died, opened fire as officers were doing a routine inspection for illegal contraband on an Amtrak train in Tucson, authorities said. A second agent and a Tucson police officer were wounded.

“It’s very horrific and we’re all just coming to terms with just how terrible a loss this is,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said. “But I also want to reflect on the really heroic actions of the officers at the scene. They literally ran towards the danger, into the car, where there was an active shooting situation going on.”

DEA confirmed that Group Supervisor Michael G. Garbo died from his injuries on Monday. Garbo, another DEA Special Agent and a Task Force Officer were all involved in the shooting incident. Garbo joined the DEA in 2005 and served with the agency for more than 16 years. The other agent and officer suffered multiple gunshot injuries, but are in stable condition. 

"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," said DEA in a statement Tuesday afternoon. 

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all flags at half-staff until Wednesday evening to honor Garbo. Ducey released a statement in honor of Garbo Tuesday afternoon.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Group Supervisor Michael Garbo's family, friends and colleagues. The senseless act of violence that took place in Tucson yesterday is a tragedy for our state. Every day, law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line to keep Arizona and our nation safe. 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."

Amtrak train shooting in Tucson

DEA agent dead in train shooting in Tucson. 

The shooting happened just after 8 a.m. on a train stopped at the station in the city's downtown. According to Tucson police, A regional task force of DEA agents and Tucson police officers were conducting a routine check for illegal guns, money, and drugs when they boarded one of the cars. It’s a common occurrence at all transit hubs, Magnus said.

Officers were in the middle of detaining a man on the upper level of the double-decker car when a second man pulled out a handgun and began firing. He exchanged several rounds with police and then barricaded himself in a bathroom on the lower level, Magnus said. He was later found dead inside.

The other suspect has been arrested. It wasn’t immediately known what charges he faces or his relationship to the second man. 

Magnus praised Tucson police officers for getting the injured DEA agent off the train and rushing him to the hospital in the back of a patrol car. The hospitalized Tucson officer had been on the platform when he heard the shooting. He was shot when he ran into the car to help.

There were about a dozen other passengers in the car where the shooting occurred. “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.

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams also confirmed there were no reported injuries to the crew or passengers.

The train was traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans and arrived at the Tucson station at 7:40 am, Abrams said, for a passenger pickup and drop off. There were 137 passengers and 11 crew members onboard at the time. 

Evan Courtney was in a lounge car when people suddenly came running in yelling: “Shots fired!”

“I grabbed my backpack and ran,” Courtney told The Associated Press via Twitter direct messaging.

He said he huddled with other passengers while looking out the window. He saw several tactical police officers with assault rifles behind barricades. After 15 minutes, “police ran to us and told us to get out of the car and run in the opposite direction.”

Deadly Amtrak shooting

This photo provided by Evan Courtney shows two officers embracing near the scene of a shooting aboard an Amtrak train in Tucson, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

Courtney later tweeted a photo of nearly two dozen officers including two embracing.

Dramatic video taken by a camera at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum shows some of the shooting.

Multiple shots can be heard from inside a train before a man, who appears to be a security officer with a dog, boards in the middle of the second-to-last car through an open door. Two bystanders back away and then run past a baggage cart, joining four others as they usher each other into the last car and the door slides shut, the video shows.

One shot is heard and the security officer, holding a gun, backs off the train with the dog still on the leash. He runs behind a structure on the train platform as a man appears at the passenger car door, fires three shots toward the fleeing man and dog, and disappears back inside.

The camera belongs to Virtual Railfan, which operates more than 50 cameras livestreaming train operations around the country for train buffs. Kathy Abbott, operations manager, said both Tucson police and Amtrak police have asked for any footage to be made available.

Virtual Railfan’s cameras do capture crime but “maybe not this dramatic,” Abbott said. “This was definitely an adrenaline rush.”

Tucson, home to the University of Arizona, is about 110 miles (180 kilometers) south of Phoenix. 

Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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