Jose Rivera's Funeral & Tribute

June 27, 2008 7:51:30 PM PDT
Law enforcement officers from across the country gathered in Merced for the funeral of an Atwater correctional officer. Jose Rivera died last Friday after investigators say he was stabbed by two inmates.The funeral service here at St. Patrick's Parish brought friends, family, fellow officers, and even U.S Attorney General Michael Mukasey together to honor Jose Rivera.

Officers from different agencies and different states stood shoulder to shoulder as Jose Rivera's casket arrived at St. Patrick's Parish in Merced. Some came from as far as Rhode Island.

Cmdr. John Bray: "Just to show support for the other officers that are here, to support the family and we are a family."

Rivera's brother helped guide the flag-draped coffin into the church past rows of saluting officers. Inside, the monsignor spoke about Rivera's service to his country first in the U.S. Navy and then as a correctional officer at the federal prison in Atwater. That's where authorities say two inmates attacked Rivera last Friday with a homemade weapon that resembled an ice pick.

Mark Pazin, Merced Co. Sheriff: "He did suffer a sharp wound to the heart that pierced it and eventually caused his death."

A news agency in Guam has now identified the inmates as James Leon Guerrero and Joseph Sablan. Both men were reportedly transferred to Atwater from their native Guam. And Guerrero had been accused but not convicted of killing another correctional officer. The U.S. Attorney's Office could not confirm or deny information about the suspects

McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney For Eastern District: "We're not going to release anything at this point, that would typically happen at indictment if there is an indictment."

McGregor Scott says an investigation into Rivera's murder is underway, but he says this day should focus on celebrating the 22 year olds short, but meaningful life.

Rivera's fellow officers say neither he nor his loved ones will be forgotten.

Sgt. Ian Pickett, Calipatria State Prison: "They have our unwavering support. We'll always be here for them as a family."

Rivera's family members and some officers we spoke with say correctional officers at federal prisons should be given better protective gear, like stab-proof vests, so more lives are not lost.


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