Tucson Amtrak shooting raises issue of train safety, guns


The man suspected of killing a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and injuring two other law enforcement officers in an Amtrak train shooting in Tucson was on bail in several violent crime cases.

Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in northern California, told The Arizona Republic that suspected gunman Darrion Taylor, 26, was released from prison after resisting a arrest warrant for another case in Sacramento.

Kelly said Taylor was wanted under a $ 200,000 warrant in a case where he was charged with assault involving a deadly weapon, robbery, shooting at a home and cruelty to a child. Kelly said Taylor assaulted an officer and attempted to take his gun while he was brought to the police station.

Taylor was initially charged with attempted murder, but the charge was later downgraded to assault involving a lethal weapon and resisting arrest. He then took out a bond of $ 255,000.

Law enforcement agencies searching for illegal items began arresting another man, Devonte Mathis, after finding marijuana and edibles in bags associated with him and returned to contact Taylor when authorities reported said Taylor pulled out a handgun and shot them.

DEA Special Agent Michael Garbo died on October 4, 2021, after a man opened fire on an Amtrak train in Tucson.

Officials said Taylor exchanged several shots with officers before barricading himself in a bathroom where he was later found dead.

DEA Special Agent Michael Garbo was killed in the shooting, and a second DEA agent and an officer from Tucson were injured. No one else was injured.Mathis faces federal drug charges.

It is still unclear how Taylor got on an Amtrak train with a gun.

What you are not allowed to bring on an Amtrak train, including firearms

The Amtrak website has a laundry list of items that passengers are prohibited from bringing with their carry-on baggage or at all.

Items prohibited on the train, whether checked baggage or carry-on baggage, include:

  • Explosives, flammable gases and other fuels.
  • Night sticks, clubs, nun-chucks.
  • Knives, axes, spears and ice picks.
  • Corrosive or dangerous chemicals like bleach and tear gas.
  • Various household items such as power tools, silverware and furniture.
  • Hoverboards.

Amtrak allows passengers to include firearms such as rifles, shotguns and pistols in their checked baggage under many restrictions, including:

  • The firearm is in a pre-approved and locked container weighing no more than 50 pounds.
  • The firearm is unloaded and the ammunition is in its original manufacturer’s container in a separate baggage.
  • The passenger should call Amtrak to state that they are checking the firearm and ammunition at least 24 hours before departure.
  • Checked baggage must be available at all stations included in the passenger’s itinerary.
  • Passengers must travel on the same train as their firearms and ammunition.

An Amtrak spokesperson told The Arizona Republic that although stations do not have metal detectors or other equipment to prevent someone from bringing a gun or other prohibited item onto a train , it has its own police force and sometimes uses K9 units to search for contraband. .

Balance security and convenience

Michael Scott, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, said businesses and organizations involved in public transportation face a challenge in balancing passenger safety and overall convenience.

Scott said he could see the federal government instituting baggage checks and other security measures similar to those that people experience at airports if serious crime on trains becomes a rising trend.

“It is not impossible to imagine a similar installation at stations where you would have to go through security before boarding,” Scott said. “And then the boarding area – the other platforms – should be secure so that no one can just run across the platforms.”

He noted that airports did not check the carry-on baggage of aircraft passengers until a peak in hijackings in the 1970s necessitated additional security measures and airport security declined. further strengthened after September 11.

Scott said that while tragedies like the Tucson Amtrak shooting are rare, if not rare, law enforcement agencies may decide this is not a problem to be addressed.

“There is definitely illegal traffic going on in the trains,” Scott said. “There are a lot of other types of things happening in and around trains: graffiti, suicides, passenger theft. But armed interactions with the police? I just haven’t heard much about it.

Scott also said teams like the Phoenix Police Department’s Fugitive Task Force try to control as many factors as possible when planning when and where an arrest is to minimize risk, and has said the Tucson shooting could force the DEA and other law enforcement agencies to reassess whether trains are a safe place to search for contraband.

Scott said this could imply law enforcement officers not confronting people they suspect to be armed or carrying illicit items while they take the train and wait instead for them to be confronted. more easily and with fewer passers-by.

“It is reasonable to expect that the people who transport these drugs will be very interested in avoiding apprehension or having their drugs confiscated,” Scott said. “There is just a lot of money at stake, which increases the risk of violence, which increases the need for the police to approach the situation in the safest possible way.”

Contact reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @PerryVandell.

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