STILLWATER, Minn. (KMSP) - Authorities have identified the offender who attacked and killed a corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, Minnesota as 42-year-old Edward Muhammad Johnson.
On Wednesday afternoon, Johnson attacked Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm in the industry building of the prison, where offenders get privileges in the industrial arts, including carpentry and welding. Gomm was taken to Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Johnson is serving a nearly 29-year sentence for the 2002 murder of 22-year-old Brooke Thompson. Police said he stabbed Thompson to death in the bathroom of his apartment, where she was living with him at the time, with her five-year-old daughter nearby.
While in the Hennepin County Jail for that crime, Johnson ignored orders to stay out of an area of the jail and punched a deputy, cutting his eye. Two years later Johnson lost his own right eye when another inmate at Stillwater attacked him with a homemade knife. Johnson received 540 days in solitary for that fight.
Officials say Johnson later lost his eye in a prison altercation and had a long discipline record.
“The discipline record of the individual is significant,” said Dept. of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy. “He has served about 1,700 days in segregation at different stages.”
Commissioner Roy explained that Johnson had shaped up over the last couple years, earning workhouse privileges in the prison’s industrial unit where inmates have access to tools in trades like welding and carpentry.
"Is this a game changer? It is an element that will certainly color the future,” said Commissioner Roy. “We have an individual who demonstrated good behavior. We have a limited pool of employees to draw from."
Authorities have said corrections Officer Joseph Gomm was killed with some type of weapon, but did not give any more details as they prepare for a potential first degree murder charge against Johnson.
“We want the world to know you can’t do this kind of crime anywhere in the country,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. “And I do not care that it occurred in prison. In fact, it makes it more egregious. So we are going to bring everything we can in the fastest way possible.”
Prison records show Johnson was transferred to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights, the state’s only Level Five maximum security prison, following Wednesday’s attack. The Stillwater prison remains on lockdown 24 hours after the attack out of an abundance of caution.
“Staff of course still struggling at our Stillwater facility, very heavy situation,” said Commissioner Roy. “We have counselors on site.”
This is believed to be the first time in history a Minnesota corrections officer has been killed in the line of duty.