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Inmate kills corrections officer at Stillwater state prison

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Stillwater prison
Throughout the main hallway there are a series of locked doors and metal detectors at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, photographed on a media tour May 2, 2014.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2014

Updated 5:20 p.m. | Posted 4:40 p.m.

A corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility — Stillwater died Wednesday after being assaulted by an inmate serving time for homicide.

Joseph Gomm, a Minnesota Department of Corrections veteran, was attacked around 1:30 p.m. in a prison industry building. Gomm was rushed to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he was later pronounced dead.

Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy
Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy talks to reporters following the assault and death of a guard at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

"The corrections family is reeling from this incident," Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy told reporters. "We are not accustomed to losing staff. Officer Gomm was a fine man doing honorable work."

Tuesday was Gomm's 16-year anniversary as a corrections officer, he said, adding that Gomm was survived by two family members.

  Roy declined to name the inmate, saying the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating. A motive for the attack hadn't been determined, he said. The inmate used a weapon in the assault but Roy declined to describe it.

Guards at the prison don't carry guns unless they're responding to a crisis. Only officers in the towers and those patrolling the prison perimeter carry guns, Roy said.

Stillwater prison
Inside a cell block where about 280 inmates live photographed on a media tour May 2, 2014.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2014

Gov. Mark Dayton in a statement offered his sympathies to Gomm's family and said he was "appalled at the horrific murder" of the corrections officer.

The local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) released a statement expressing their grief.

"We offer our deepest sympathy and unconditional support for his family. We also offer our deepest sympathy to all who were touched by this wonderful man," the statement read. "We ask that everyone cherish their lives every day."

The Stillwater prison is the state's largest such institution for adult male felons, with about 1,600 offenders, including more than 500 in for homicide.

Earlier this year, the Stillwater prison and the prison at Oak Park Heights responded to several incidents where officers were attacked by prisoners.

That included 10 officers assaulted in two separate incidents at Oak Park Heights.