ORDWAY, Colo. (AP) – The death of a correctional officer who was killed in an assault involving an inmate drives home that there aren’t enough people like her, Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a public memorial service Monday.
Sgt. Mary K. Ricard was killed Sept. 24 in an assault that occurred while breakfast was being prepared at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility. Sgt. Lori Gann was seriously injured.
Colleagues said Ricard a passion for God, helping others, her family and cooking. She was at the prison on her day off, officials have said.
“She was a believer. She believed in people, and that every soul, no matter how far off the track, can be redeemed,” Hickenlooper said.
Tony Carochi, director of prison operations for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said Ricard gave up her career as a pastry chef to work in prisons because she wanted to make a difference and change lives.
“In all things, Mary gave us kindness, honesty, and above all, courage,” Carochi said.
About 600 of Ricard’s colleagues, family and others packed a high school gymnasium to remember her, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
Pastor Mark Apodaca of Pueblo read aloud a eulogy written by Ricard’s husband, Tim, that said, in part: “She taught us so much about how to live a life of sacrifice and emotion. … My heart is broken, but I know where Mary is.”
Miguel Alonso Contreras-Perez, who was serving 35 years to life for kidnapping and sexual assault, has been named a person of interest in the assault.
Funds have been set up to help Ricard’s and Gann’s families, the Department of Corrections said.
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