Grayville native who died in line of duty remembered as ‘quiet’, ‘warmhearted’


GRAYVILLE, Ill, (WEHT) A southeast Illinois community remembers one of its own who died in the line of duty in Arizona this week.

DEA Special Agent Michael Garbo is originally from Grayville, Illinois. He was killed in a shootout at an Amtrak train depot in Tucson, Arizona. It happened while agents and Tucson Police inspected luggage for illegal money, weapons and drugs.

“I know Grayville is a small community, but we have big hearts in this town,” said Tiffanie Hout of Grayville.

In this community of about 1,600 people, the death of Special Agent Michael Garbo left their hearts broken.

“I was just in total shock. It was like, how much more can this family take?” said Melas Millar, who was librarian at Grayville High School when Garbo was a student.

“When I did hear his name the other day when this happened, I was just in complete shock that it had happen,” added Hout.

Garbo was the son of an Illinois State Police captain, and a 1988 graduate of Grayville High School before becoming a police officer in Nashville He eventually joined the DEA as a special agent. Those who knew him say he was quiet, a man who did things by the book.

“Mike came from a family where he believed in doing it the right way, and that’s the way Mike was as a man,” said Terry Haywood, a former school board member who knew Garbo.

Others remember him as warm hearted, and someone who could put a smile on anyone’s face.
“He was hilarious,” recalled Robin Finch, who went to school with Garbo. “I don’t think people realize that about him. He was quite funny, and liked to goof around a lot. But when it was time to get the job done, he got the job done.”

Garbo’s death is the latest tragedy to hit his family.

“His mother passed away just March of this year, his dad passed away in June of this year, and it’s like, ‘Wow. Another one.’ I can’t imagine,'” said Tom Millar, who taught math while Garbo was at Grayville High School.

Although Garbo moved out of Grayville for his law enforcement career, those who knew him keep their memories of him close to their hearts.

“He was a good boy and he turned out to be a great man, and it’s a very sad ending for someone who deserved better,” says Haywood.

(This story was originally published on October 6, 2021)

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