MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Family, friends, and colleagues came together today to remember the first Minnesota corrections officer to die in the line of duty. An inmate attacked Officer Joe Gomm inside Stillwater Prison one year ago.

A mix of deep grief and gratitude for the life of Officer Joseph Gomm encircled the flag Thursday outside Stillwater Prison.

“Joe, my friends, did not die in vain,” DOC Chaplain Rev. Martin Shanahan said.

Words were felt deeply by family, friends and those Gomm served alongside. Hundreds came together one year after he was killed to heal.

“One of the things that comes out of tragedy is bringing people together, that’s one of the things this ceremony represents,” DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell said.

Gomm was alone with offenders working in welding and carpentry. An inmate serving time for murder was charged with attacking Gomm with a hammer last July, killing him.

Gomm sought a safer prison and now others are championing his efforts.

“His death has been the catalyst of change, the agent of revitalization and the bearer of new visions,” Shanahan said.

Gomm’s family felt the recognition and support.

“He is dearly missed by everybody,” sister Angela Wood said.

“He touched a of people’s hearts and people he didn’t know,” sister Audrey Cone said.

And, they believe because of his sacrifice, Minnesotans will be safer.

“His legacy and his memory will live on,” Cone said.

A rock in memory of Gomm stands permanently outside the prison, honoring his life and as a symbol of the rock he was for so many.

“He put himself out there for you if you needed help, Joe was the one you could turn to,” Stillwater prison Sgt. Steve Turbeville said.

Officers here say they can’t move on from what happened, but they will carry on in honor of Officer Joe Gomm.

Jennifer Mayerle

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