DOC Confirms 2 Correctional Officers Injured in Assaults at Oak Park Heights

October 26, 2018 07:03 PM

The Minnesota Department of Corrections confirms two corrections officers were injured in assaults at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights Thursday night.

Minnesota DOC spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald said the assaults occurred while an offender was being transported from the facility's gym. A second offender then became involved. Three officers were present during the incident and two sustained injuries. They were taken to a hospital for further medical evaluation.

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RELATED: Death of Oak Park Heights Corrections Officer Ruled Homicide

But Fitzgerald said they have since been released.

The two offenders were placed in restrictive housing and the facility is currently locked down. The matter remains under investigation.

The assaults come in the same week that a medical examiner ruled as a homicide the death of a corrections officer at Oak Park Heights who had a medical emergency after previously responding to an assault on another officer in September.

Correctional Officer Joseph Parise died Sept. 24. According to his death certificate, the primary cause of death was acute coronary syndrome, with a secondary cause of ischemic heart disease.

In July, Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater corrections officer Joseph Gomm was killed while on-duty.

“I'm really concerned about the safety of our corrections officers and also we're responsible for the safety of the inmates themselves,” said Rep. Brian Johnson. “If they're assaulting the guards and assaulting each other, we need to really take a look at what's going on a put an end to it.”

Last week The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) called on lawmakers to approve funding for 327 new officers.

Johnson, a Republican who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, said they need immediate solutions.

“We have a tough time filling the positions we have that are open,” he said. “If we can't fill positions we have how will adding guards, they'll just be open positions.”

RELATED: DOC Meets in Private With Lawmakers on Prison Safety 

DFL Rep. Debra Hilstrom told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in early Oct., "There is a request for additional resources for the Department of Corrections, and the Legislature has an obligation to ensure that staff are safe and that inmates are safe.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the isle said the issue needs to be addressed when the session starts in January.

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