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“Courageous” K-9 killed while protecting officer from MS-13 gang members during Virginia prison attack, officials say

A Virginia police dog was stabbed and killed during an assault by MS-13 gang members at a state prison, Virginia prison officials said Wednesday.

The K-9, named Rivan, was accompanying Kharmishia Corrections Officer Phillip Fields on Tuesday when three inmates at Sussex I State Prison attacked another inmate. The three attacking prisoners are affiliated with the MS-13 gang, the Virginia Department of Corrections said, and appeared to be supervised by another inmate.

Phillip Fields and Rivan responded to the attack. As they worked to “protect the detainees and restore order,” Rivan was “violently and repeatedly stabbed and beaten” by the detainees, officials said.

Rivan died from his injuries at the facility despite life-saving attempts, the corrections department said. The dog was five years old and would have been six at the end of April. Rivan was part of the K-9 Unit since 2019, and officials announced that a memorial service for the dog would be held.

Rivan.

Virginia Department of Corrections


Phillip Fields had no serious injuries, officials said, due to his training and Rivan’s “courageous actions.”

The attacked inmate was taken to the hospital for treatment and then returned to Sussex I State Prison.

“The safety of our corrections team is our agency’s top priority,” VADOC Director Chad Dotson said in a statement. “Agent Phillip Fields has the full support of the agency during this difficult time and I personally wish him well. (…) The loss of Rivan is truly tragic, but it is important to remember that he did not die in vain. He lost his all while potentially saving the lives of two people, that of his designated officer and a detainee. VADOC will never forget Rivan’s sacrifice.

Officials said the Department of Corrections plans to “prosecute” the inmates involved in the attack. Authorities did not name the inmates involved, but said they had just El Salvador and Guatemala. All four were in the United States illegally at the time of their arrest and conviction, authorities said, and were jailed on charges of first-degree homicide, attempted rape, kidnapping and child pornography . Three of the four are verified MS-13 members, officials said.

An investigation into the attack is underway.

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