Gang Members at Va. Prison Fatally Stab K-9 During Attack on Inmate

April 4, 2024
Three members of the MS-13 gang were attacking another inmate at Sussex I State Prison in Norfolk before stabbing to death Rivan, a Virginia Department of Corrections K-9.

NORFOLK, VA — A K-9 on duty with the department of corrections was killed by gang members at Sussex I State Prison, officials said Wednesday.

According to a release from the Virginia Department of Corrections, K-9 Rivan and officer Kharmishia Phillip Fields were on duty when three members of the MS-13 gang were attacking another inmate in the housing unit, and the two responded. The department reports a fourth inmate “appeared to be supervising” the attack.

During the conflict, VADOC said Rivan “was violently and repeatedly stabbed and kicked by the inmates.” Phillip Fields was not seriously injured. Prison staff attempted to save Rivan’s life, but they were unsuccessful. The inmate who was being attacked was transported to the hospital.

“The inmates involved in the malicious attack are from El Salvador and Guatemala and at least threeare verified members of MS-13,” a statement from the department reads. “The Department has confirmed that all four of the inmates were in the United States illegally at the time of their arrest and conviction.”

Their identities were not released, but a department spokesperson said the inmates involved had been charged with first-degree homicide, attempted rape, abduction, malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, child pornography charges, grand larceny and possession of a Schedule III Drug.

“The safety of our corrections team is our agency’s top priority,” said VADOC Director Chad Dotson. “Officer Phillip Fields has the agency’s full support during this difficult time and I personally wish her well in her recovery. The heroics she displayed during this brutal assault demonstrate her courage, her commitment to public safety, and her care for the safety of the inmate population. I thank her for her service to the Commonwealth.”

Rivan was a Belgian Malinois who started his service in 2019. The department said he “came from a K-9 family with a strong public safety tradition.” His father worked for a police department in Southwest Virginia and his mother worked for the United States Secret Service.

There will be a memorial service, and the department says Rivan’s death is still under investigation.


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