California State Prison Officer Stabbed to Death at Chino Prison
The Associated Press
CHINO, CA (AP) -- A 43-year-old guard at the California Institution for Men was stabbed to death Monday in an inmate attack -- the first fatal assault on a state corrections officer since 1996, officials said.
Manuel A. Gonzalez Jr., 43, died at a hospital following the 10:50 a.m. attack at the prison that houses minimum- and medium-security inmates, officials with the California Department of Corrections said in a statement.
Three inmates, said to be associates of the East Coast Crips street gang, were being questioned about the stabbing, said Margot Bach, a department spokeswoman.
Gonzalez was a 16-year employee of the corrections department and had been working at the Chino prison since February 1996. He had five children.
The inmates being questioned were identified as Jon Blaylock, Keith White and Henry Riley, Bach said.
Blaylock, 35, is considered the primary suspect in the attack, officials said. He was imprisoned last June after receiving a 75-year sentence for attempted murder and had been imprisoned twice earlier for attempted burglary in 1990 and 1993.
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary Rod Hickman had planned a media briefing Monday afternoon on other matters, but canceled it after the slaying.
"There is no greater loss than to lose a brother officer killed in the line of duty," Hickman said in a statement. "I know as professionals we will pull together to help Officer Gonzalez's children and parents deal with this loss and all of us throughout this state will pull together to help heal the wound that has been inflicted on our agency and state."
Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said Gonzalez was attacked while handing out sack lunches.
Gonzalez was not wearing a stab-resistant vest of the sort that has been mandatory for guards in segregation areas for about the last three years, Corcoran said. The vests are being phased in for guards such as Gonzalez who work in general population areas, and 100 of the vests were warehoused at the prison but not yet distributed, Corcoran said.
The vests are measured and fitted individually, and the corrections department has been moving to provide them for its 31,000 sworn peace officers, said George Kostyrko, a department spokesman.
"It takes a lot of time to get that done with that many employees," he said.
In 1996, a California Youth Authority inmate at another Chino facility fatally stabbed Ineasie Baker, a 42-year-old female counselor. Her body was dumped in a trash bin and found days later in a landfill.
Since 1952, 20 male employees have been killed at adult prisons, Bach said. Baker is the only woman killed during that time. A guard had not been killed at an adult facility since a 1985 attack at San Quentin State Prison, Bach said.