The agent, Michael “Mike” Garbo, was killed after gunfire erupted on the New Orleans-bound Amtrak train — as a task force composed of local and federal law enforcement agencies was conducting a routine check for illegal guns, drugs, money, and other items around 8 a.m. at a station in downtown Tucson.
Garbo worked for the Metro Nashville Police Department from 1993 to 2005 before joining the DEA, where he served as a group supervisor, FOX 17 Nashville reported.
In a statement, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said Garbo was loved and respected throughout the agency “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,” she added.
Authorities had encountered two people on the second level of the double-decker train and were speaking to one of them when the second person opened fire, Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus told reporters.
The suspected shooter then barricaded himself inside a train bathroom, Magnus said, according to FOX 17. Authorities later determined that the suspect was dead, though Magnus did not know whether agents shot him or if he took his own life.
A second agent and a Tucson police officer were also shot several times and they remained in stable condition Tuesday, the DEA said. Authorities have not released their identities.
The inspection followed tips from Amtrak, according to a federal criminal complaint released Tuesday. The Sunset Limited, Train 2, was carrying 137 passengers and 11 crew members.
The shooting occurred after the surviving suspect, Devonte Okeith Mathis, was seen by an officer leaving a backpack and two bags a few rows away from him on one of the double-decker train’s cars.
Mathis denied the items were his before an officer questioned him and discovered two large bulk packages of marijuana in the backpack, the complaint said. The officer then alerted Garbo and the other agent, who went back into the car to talk to the second suspect and were ambushed by gunfire.
Following a search warrant, the bags were found to contain 5.3 pounds of marijuana, 50 packages containing 3.5 grams each of marijuana edibles, as well as other cannabis products, the complaint stated.
Mathis was arrested and faces federal charges of knowingly and intentionally possessing with the intent to distribute less than 110 pounds of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, according to the complaint.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at state buildings to remain at half-staff until sunset Wednesday in honor of Garbo.
Garbo was the second federal officer to die in the line of duty in recent weeks.
Jared Keyworth, a deputy U.S. marshal and senior inspector, died last month in a car accident while responding to a felony offender case near Florence, Mississippi, according to the Advocate.
“We are grateful for the courage and selfless sacrifice of these heroes,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “And I join the entire Justice Department in conveying our support and deepest sympathies to their families.”
Just one day after Garland’s statement, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was seriously hurt Tuesday during a shootout near Metro Police headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, authorities said.
Louis Casiano and the Associated Press contributed to this report