Commissioner Tom Roy of the Department of Corrections in Minnesota, sadly reports the death of Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm.

Officer Gomm was supervising about 20 inmates in the Stillwater State Prison Facility’s industry building when a lone inmate wielding a hammer attacked him. The inmate struck him several times in the head.

Additional inmates blocked doors preventing other corrections officers from coming to Gomm’s aid.

Gomm had nothing more than pepper spray and a radio for defensive purposes. As a result of the attack and his critical wounds, he was transported to the Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he succumbed to his injuries.

The Stillwater State Prison houses 1616 inmates of which 527 have been convicted of murder.

The inmate that attacked Gomm had been convicted of second-degree murder and had four years left to serve on his 29-year sentence for the killing of his girlfriend. He has been transferred to a maximum-security facility as a result of this incident.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting the investigation. Officer Gomm is the first corrections officer to be killed in the line of duty at the Stillwater Prison.

Commissioner Roy was visibly emotional when he gave a press conference early Wednesday evening in St. Paul.

“Officer Gomm was a fine man doing honorable work,” Roy said. “We are visiting emotions that we have not visited before.”

“The time today, I hope, will be focused on the family and their loss. I hope we can focus our efforts on the staff and their feelings, because really, that is our priority at this time,” he said.

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.

On social media, those who worked with Gomm shared gratitude for knowing him. One woman wrote on Facebook, “He worked in my unit for years and made sure I got out safely to see my loved ones every day. I never let a day go by where I didn’t thank him for that!”

A source, who at one point worked with Gomm, described him as caring and confident, and someone who pointed out what corrections officers should do to protect themselves.

Outside Officer Gomm’s home in Blaine, neighbors were coming to terms with the news.

“I think it’s terrible and I think most of the people here think it’s really horrible,” said neighbor Mary Olson. “Nobody deserves to die in such a way.”

Joseph Gomm was a 16-year veteran of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Two family members who were with him in the hospital at the time of his death survive him.

Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm is gone, but will never be forgotten.

EOW: Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Joseph Gomm

(Graphics courtesy Rose Borisow GrafX)