Family, friends remember Minnesota corrections officer killed by inmate last year

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Corrections officers from around Minnesota gathered outside the state prison in Stillwater Thursday to remember Officer Joseph Gomm, who was beaten to death by an inmate one year ago.  

On July 18, 2018, Edward Johnson, 43, was working in the prison’s industry building when he took a prison-issued hammer and two homemade knives and bludgeoned Gomm. Johnson was already serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. He is now charged with Gomm’s murder and faces a trial set for early September.

Gomm’s friends and family came together for a remembrance ceremony outside the Minnesota Correctional Facility Thursday afternoon, where they honored him with a moment of silence and the dedication of a memorial bench and a monument. 

Rev. Martin Shanahan, who officiated Gomm’s funeral last year,  led the memorial service. He emphasized that Gomm “did not die in vain,” pointing to all the positive change that has come to the state’s Department of Corrections following the deadly attack. 

Gomm’s death prompted scrutiny of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Now, the state is adding 78 corrections officers over the next four years in the name of prison safety. 

Lawmakers are also requiring corrections to implement other changes, including more reporting requirements when prison staff keep an inmate in solitary confinement for long periods.

Gov. Tim Walz released a statement on the anniversary of Gomm’s death, saying no one “should bear being assaulted or killed in their place of work.” 

“I am committed to making our correctional facilities safer for employees and inmates by hiring more staff and encouraging programs that decrease violence,” Walz said. “Officer’s Gomm’s legacy is not forgotten.”