Monday, January 10, 2005

16-Year Veteran CDC Correctional Officer Dies From Inmate Stabbing Attack

Correctional Officer Manuel A. Gonzalez, Jr., 43, a 16-year employee of the California Department of Corrections, died today following a stabbing incident involving an inmate at California Institution for Men (CIM). Today’s tragic murder of a California Department of Corrections correctional peace officer is the first in nearly 20 years.

At approximately 10:50 a.m. today, Officer Gonzalez was stabbed while performing his duties at CIM. The officer was transported to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment where he subsequently died. His next of kin was notified. The CDC Law Enforcement and Investigations Unit and the Chino Police Department are conducting the investigation at this time.

Three inmates are being questioned about today’s incident. One inmate is believed to have been responsible for the murder; however, investigators are questioning two other inmates.

The primary inmate suspect in the murder is Jon Christopher Blaylock, 35, who was committed from Los Angeles County in June 2004 after being convicted of attempted murder of a peace officer. He was given a sentence of 75 years and had served time at CDC twice before, for attempted burglary in 1990 and in 1993. He was last released from prison in April 2002.

Roderick Q. Hickman, Secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, issued a statement:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Gonzalez’ family at this tragic time. When something like this happens, all of us in the Corrections family are deeply impacted and pained. There is no greater loss than to lose a brother officer killed in the line of duty. I know as professionals we will pull together to help Officer Gonzalez’ 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.

I also want to assure the family and the officers who served with Manuel Gonzalez that we will do everything in our power to ensure that the ones responsible for this crime are held accountable to the highest degree of the law.”

CDC Director Jeanne S. Woodford issued a statement:

“My condolences go out to the family of Correctional Officer Manuel A. Gonzalez, Jr. I do not have the words to express my grief and sadness. It has been nearly 20 years since a CDC employee died in the line of duty. Prison design, the classification system, and CDC policies and procedures all contribute to staff safety, but the risk is always there that we could be subjected to severe injury, or as in this case, give our lives for public safety.

Correctional Officer Gonzalez was a consummate professional who was well respected by his co-workers. He was reliable and approached his responsibilities with a spirit of teamwork. He was friendly, went beyond his duties to assist other staff, communicated well with inmates, and worked to make our facilities safer.

Not only was Correctional Officer Gonzalez a corrections professional, but a beloved father of five children. His death is a great loss not only to CDC, but to his family, friends and co-workers.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Correctional Officer Gonzalez’ family and friends and to those employees who knew him and worked with him at California Institution for Men, California State Prison, Los Angeles County; and Corcoran State Prison. All of us have been touched by this loss and I know that we will all pull together to support each other during this difficult time.”