Army of peers salutes slain Woburn officer

Thousands come to demonstrate solidarity, respect

Police who had lined up by department exited one by one yesterday from a Woburn funeral home where Patrolman John B. Maguire was waked. Police who had lined up by department exited one by one yesterday from a Woburn funeral home where Patrolman John B. Maguire was waked. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / December 31, 2010

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WOBURN — Police officers lined up by the hundreds, all in their department’s best, making a sea of blue from Woburn Square to the McLaughlin-Dello Russo Funeral Home as they waited to pay respects to a brother in law enforcement.

One by one, with a grace fitting the most solemn of police traditions, they quietly filed into the funeral home to salute the fallen officer, Woburn Officer John B. Maguire. They passed his casket, the honor guards, his family.

More than 2,000 police officers, from cities and towns, college campuses, and state agencies from across the region took part in the ceremony yesterday for Maguire, the 34-year police veteran, known as Jack, who was fatally shot by an armed robber during Sunday night’s blizzard.

The traditional procession, with officers in dress uniform, many wearing white gloves, preceded calling hours for the 60-year-old Maguire, and hundreds of residents and public officials went through a lengthy line to offer condolences. A funeral is planned for 11 a.m. today at Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington.

Maguire was the first Woburn officer ever killed in the line of duty, and the bond that law enforcement officers share was demonstrated by yesterday’s ceremony. Each officer wore a black band over his or her badge with a blue line running through it, because, as they put it, they share that blue line that signifies police duty.

“It is a brotherhood,’’ said John Powers, a retired Tewksbury police sergeant who serves as a reserve officer, as he held back tears. “That’s one of the few things going for us, and if we don’t stay together, then what else do we have?’’

Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith said Maguire’s death was a reminder to all in public service of the dangers they face and the bond they share.

“We’re a fraternity, no matter what color our shirt is or what patch we wear on our shoulder,’’ he said. “We lost a true friend and a true brother. It’s always difficult when you lose a police officer, but when you lose a police officer to such a tragedy in such a violent way, it makes us all think and take a step back.’’

Maguire was responding to an armed robbery at the Kohl’s department store on Washington Street just before 9 p.m. Sunday, amid heavy snowfall, when he engaged in a foot chase with the robber. The two men shot each other — officials have not said who fired first — and both died. A man who was standing lookout has been charged with murder.

The robber who died, 57-year-old Dominic Cinelli, was a career criminal who shot a security guard two decades ago during an armed robbery spree. He had been serving three concurrent life sentences of 15 years to life, but was released on parole in early 2009.

The state Parole Board has come under intense criticism for the decision to release Cinelli, who had spent most of his adult life in jail as a habitual armed robber known for a drug problem and a violent past. Governor Deval Patrick has ordered an investigation into the decision.

But as law enforcement officers call for a thorough probe, they made yesterday a day for remembering Maguire, whose father, the late Thomas J. Maguire, once served as police chief here. Jack Maguire leaves a wife and three grown children, as well as a brother.

“He was a brave man, and his family should be proud of him,’’ said Rachel Sheehan, 19, of Woburn, who works at the Kohl’s targeted by the robbers. She was not there when the robbery occurred, but said all employees were appreciative of Maguire’s sacrifice.

Sheehan brought a card to the wake to hand to the Maguire family, “to thank them for everything he did,’’ she said.

Outside the funeral home, the police ceremony was a demonstration of unity for hundreds of residents who came to watch the hourlong procession into the funeral home. Esther Golles brought her 11-year-old grandson John, who called the walk-by ceremony honorable.

“It’s just an incredible sight to see the outpouring of solidarity and support,’’ said Mark Ferullo, a brother of a Woburn police officer, who had left work early to watch the walk-by.

“It’s an incredible display,’’ Ferullo said. ’’It’s just unfortunate we had to see it.’’

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at

Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story about the wake for slain Woburn police Officer John B. Maguire incorrectly identified John Golles’s relationship to Esther Golles. He is her grandson.