Minnesota inmate bloody past comes to light after the alleged killing of corrections officer

Edward Mohammed Johnson, 42, is accused of using a weapon to attack Officer Joseph Gomm on Wednesday in Stillwater prison in Stillwater, Minn.

(Minnesota Department of Corrections via AP)

A one-eyed inmate accused of killing a Minnesota corrections officer this week has a history of violence — although his recent “good behavior” allowed him access to tools and an industrial building where the officer was killed, authorities said Thursday.

Edward Mohammed Johnson, 42, was attacked and fatally injured Officer Joseph Gomm with a weapon, authorities said. While the authorities are not the name of the type of weapon, reports say that it is a hammer. A preliminary autopsy showed Gomm died of blunt force trauma.

Gomm was murdered in the prison of industry in the building, where eligible inmates can participate in the welding and carpentry programs, said the Ministry of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy. Johnson had access to the building, as he was not disciplined since 2016.

Officer Joseph Gomm was killed by an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional facility in Stillwater, the officials said.


“He has an exemplary prisoner,” Roy said Johnson. “The discipline record of the individual is important.” He noted, however, that Johnson had “relatively” good behavior” in the past few years.

Johnson served a 29-year sentence in the state prison in Stillwater for fatally stabbing a 22-year-old woman in front of her 5-year-old daughter in 2002, FOX9 Minneapolis reported. This murder is only the beginning of a number of violent prison encounters that would follow.

“The discipline record of the individual is important.”

– Tom Roy, Department of Corrections Commissioner

While in 2002 the case was pending, Johnson attacked a sheriff’s deputy at the Hennepin County Jail, FOX9 reported. He is allegedly hit the officer, leaving a cut near one of his eyes, after ignoring orders.

Two years later, Johnson would lose his own right eye after the other prisoner in his cell, and stabbed him in the eye, according to the court documents. Johnson served 540 days in segregation for the incident, only a third of its nearly 1,700 days spent isolated.

Johnson’s violent prison life is a bookend what was a bloody youth, when as a 12-year-old, he was witnessing his father fatally shooting his mother, then himself, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

DOC Commish detailed the prison behavioral history of murder suspect Edward Mohammed Johnson. He was prone to violent outbursts that had him in the separation of more than 1,500 days, more than 15 years. Is segregation for more than 2 years now, and had earned industry privileges.

— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) July 19, 2018

His sister, Zakiyyah Johnson, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis they were traumatized by the death of their parents, who were both Chicago police officers.

After Gomm the death of Johnson was moved to a maximum security facility and placed in segregation, authorities said. The Stillwater prison remained on lockdown Thursday of an “abundance of caution” as prisoners’ behaviour can be checked, Roy said.

Attacks in the Stillwater prison were this year, with 59 attacks on staff, including 11 attacks with weapons, according to the most recent data available. The previous year saw 27 attacks, including three attacks with weapons.

“[Gomm] paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he was sworn to do.”

– Jeff Beahen, Rogers chief of police, president of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association.

Our hearts are collectively broken after the loss of the Stillwater Correctional Officer Joseph Gomm. Please keep our staff and Officer Gomm family in your thoughts. Joseph gave the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the citizens of Minnesota.

— MN Dept. of Corrections (@MinnCorrections) July 19, 2018

Funeral arrangements for Gomm, an officer at the prison for 16 years, were still pending Thursday.

“He paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he was sworn to do,” said Rogers police chief Jeff Beahen, president of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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