Federal prison guard fatally stabbed

Times Staff Writer

Two inmates fatally stabbed a prison guard Friday afternoon in an incident under investigation by federal authorities, officials at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atwater, Calif., said Saturday.

Jose Rivera, 22, of Chowchilla was attacked by inmates armed with homemade weapons about 3:30 p.m., according to a statement by Warden Dennis Smith. The assault took place in an inmate housing unit and the alleged assailants were immediately restrained, he said.

Rivera was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m.

The high-security facility, about 10 miles northwest of Merced in the San Joaquin Valley, houses adult male offenders and has a minimum-security satellite camp.


Rivera had worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons for less than a year, according to officials.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Officer Rivera’s family and friends and will assist in any way possible to ensure the perpetrators of this horrific crime are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Smith said.

Jesse Gonzalez, public information officer for the prison, said FBI agents are investigating the killing.

The prison is one of four federal facilities in California offering financial incentives to fill an “urgent need of correctional officers.”

The slaying of prison guards is a rarity. Officer Manuel A. Gonzalez, who was stabbed to death in 2005 by a convict at the California Institution for Men in Chino, was the first state prison guard killed on the job in 20 years.