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Former employee arrested for dairyman’s murder

Former employee arrested for dairyman’s murder

Family says Jorge Rivera, stopped coming to work, began harassing Tony Dragt before he was murdered on Sept. 4

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – A former employee is charged with murdering a Visalia dairyman. 

On Sept. 10, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Jorge Rivera, 26, in the death of dairyman Tony Dragt. Rivera was charged on Monday with first-degree murder with the special allegations of personal use of a handgun, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of possessing an assault weapon which was found in his vehicle.  

Jorge Rivera
26 years old

“The taking of any human life is unacceptable. This senseless, violent, and horrific murder not only impacts a family, but an entire community,” District Attorney Tim Ward said in a released statement. “My office will be seeking the maximum sentence allowed under California law.” 

Dragt was shot at around 2:20 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the Dragt Dairy, located at 4590 Avenue 304 in Visalia. Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies found the 56-year-old dairyman in the middle of the road with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Detectives quickly identified Rivera as a possible suspect. Rivera was hired to work for the dairy in May 2018, but stopped showing up for work in June 2019. The family told Detectives that, since then, Rivera had been harassing them.

Detectives were able to track down several surveillance videos from the Dragt Dairy, as well as surrounding dairies. The surveillance videos showed Jorge arriving at the Dragt Dairy at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, where employees said he was asking for Tony Dragt. Ten minutes later, at 1:40 p.m., Jorge is seen on surveillance video at another dairy asking for the victim. At 2 p.m., the suspect’s car is seen at the victim’s house. At 2:15 p.m., both the suspect and victims’ vehicles are seen on surveillance video from another dairy.

After reviewing the surveillance videos, Detectives confirmed that Rivera drove a black Chrysler 200, which is similar to the vehicle seen in all of the surveillance videos. Detectives were the also able to track down Rivera’s cellphone number and ping it to a location on Highway 99, heading toward Bakersfield. Undercover detectives set up and conducted a two-hour surveillance on the suspect’s vehicle and followed it to the Richgrove area. At 9:22 p.m., detectives stopped his car in the area of Highway 99 and County Line Road and arrested Rivera. Four guns were found in his car.

Rivera was arraigned on Monday at the county pretrial facility where a future court date was set. If convicted of all charges, Rivera faces life in prison.  

The case remains under investigation and anyone with information is urged to contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218 or 1-800-808-0488 or anonymously at tcso@tipnow.com or by text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.

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