Stillwater inmate who killed a CO was showing good behavior

“We have people who are struggling right now who worked arm-and-arm with Gomm."

Edgar Linares
July 19, 2018 - 6:53 pm

By Edgar Linares

Categories: 

Most of Minnesota's entire prison system remains on lockdown after yesterday's deadly attack of a corrections officer.

“Visiting is limited medical service is provided as need, but it’s not business as usual that’s for sure,” said Tom Roy, Minnesota’s Department of Corrections Commissioner.

On Wednesday, Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm, 45, was killed inside an industrial building on the Stillwater prison grounds. The inmate suspected of the killing has been identified Edward Muhammad Johnson, 42. Who was serving time for second-degree murder in the 2002 killing of his roommate.

Commissioner Tom Roy said up until yesterday’s killing, Johnson had demonstrated good behavior, which gave him access to the industrial work area where he had access to tools. Johnson reportedly used a hammer to attack Gomm, who completed his 16th year as a CO for the Stillwater prison the day before.

“We have a very emotional department right now,” said the commissioner. “We have people who are struggling right now who worked arm-and-arm, elbow-to-elbow with Officer Gomm.”

Johnson was serving a 29-year prison sentence and scheduled to be released in 2022. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Johnson was convicted in 2003 for the 2002 killing of Brooke Thompson, 22, his roommate. In 2004, he lost his right eye in a confrontation with another inmate. Most recently, he was placed in segregation for 540 days for fighting.

Johnson’s parents died in a murder-suicide in 1988 when he was 12 years old according to the Chicago Tribune. His parents were both Chicago Police officers. The 42-year-old witnessed his father shoot his wife eight times after she had filed for divorce.

Since the attack Commissioner Roy has been fielding questions about staffing levels at the prison. He wouldn't give specifics of the industrial area where the attack occurred, but cited a report from 2014, from National Institute of Corrections Staffing showing the Stillwater Prison needed 16 positions filled, and the overall prison Minnesota prison system needed 100. Roy says they're still needed.

"We’re sticking with that number because our population is pretty much the same. We’re maxed out in terms of population,” said Roy.

That inmate population at Stillwater is 1,616 and 527 are serving time for homicide. The Minnesota Union Representing Officer Joseph Gomm, AFSCME Council 5 issued a statement.

“AFSCME Council 5 recognizes short staffing in our correctional facilities. We have lobbied the Legislature for increased staffing and funding to help alleviate these shortages only to have them voted down by politicians who do not support the safety and security of our Correctional Staff. We will continue to advocate for more staff to ensure the safety of our members and the public.”

In the meantime, Johnson has been moved to the Oak Park Heights prison, a more secure facility.