Officer Killed in Stillwater Prison Attack; Sources Name Inmate

July 24, 2018 09:03 AM

The Minnesota Department of Corrections confirms a corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater died after an assault by an offender Wednesday afternoon.

A release stated Joseph Gomm was attacked in an industry building around 1:30 p.m. He was rushed to Regions Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

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Gomm had been with the department for 16 years.

Sources confirmed the identity of the offender as Edward Muhammad Johnson. Johnson is serving a sentence for homicide, according to DOC records.

Sources also confirmed Johnson attacked Gomm with a hammer. 

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, DOC Commissioner Tom Roy said Johnson has yet to be interviewed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

"We believe for the first time in our history we have lost a corrections officer to violence in our institution at Stillwater," he said.

Roy said the BCA had arrived on the scene, and added the facility was placed on lockdown. 

According to the DOC website, the facility in Stillwater is the state's largest close-security institution for adult male felons. DOC records show 527 inmates with active sentences for homicide at Stillwater.

One Guard, Up to 20 Inmates

Meanwhile, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has uncovered new details about what goes on inside the building where the attack occurred. 

A source tells the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigative team that Gomm patrolled the welding and paint shops where inmates have access to tools and pipes.

There can be up to 20 inmates in each shop at one time, according to the source, and only one corrections officer who makes the rounds.

On Wednesday, it appears that officer was Gomm.

Roy said it's not clear at this point if the attack was caught on camera.

However, the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS source said Wednesday there are no security cameras in the work areas of the welding and paint shops in building 20.

Mourning the loss

Roy said the department was in mourning.

"The corrections family is reeling from this incident," Roy said. "We are not accustomed to losing staff."

He added, "Officer Gomm was a fine man doing honorable work." 

RELATED: Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility Placed on Lockdown after Staff Member Injured

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement Wednesday regarding the incident:

I am appalled at the horrific murder of Officer Joseph Gomm. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I offer my deepest sympathies to Officer Gomm's family, friends, and fellow Corrections Officers. We pray that they find strength and solace at this very difficult time.

We are all indebted to the courageous Corrections Officers and other state employees, who risk their safety in Minnesota's prisons to ensure the safety of their colleagues, our communities, and the inmates themselves. Minnesotans are grateful for your selfless service, and we mourn with you the loss of your colleague and friend.

Those sentiments were echoed by the union that represents correctional officers across the state.

A statement from AFSCME Local 600, Corrections Policy Committee and Council 5 read: 

"We are grieving the tragic loss of Brother Joseph Gomm. Our hearts are heavy for his family, friends, and co-workers.
 
"We offer our deepest sympathy and unconditional support for his family. We also offer our deepest sympathy to all who were touched by this wonderful man.
 
"We ask that everyone cherish their lives every day."

Joe Augustine, Jay Kolls and Eric Chaloux contributed to this report.

Credits

Ryan Raiche, Ben Rodgers and Frank Rajkowski

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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