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ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (AP) — Thousands of law enforcement officers filled a church Thursday to pay their respects to a Minnesota prison guard killed in the line of duty.

An honor guard from around the region stood at the entrance to North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills as the body of Joseph Gomm arrived in a casket draped with a U.S. flag.

The 45-year-old corrections officer was killed by an inmate at the Stillwater prison last week. Gomm, who had just marked 16 years as a correctional officer, is the first prison guard killed in the line of duty in Minnesota.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports the Rev. Marty Shanahan, the Stillwater prison chaplain, remembered Gomm for his compassion. He recalled Gomm rescuing an owl trapped in a prison building and the kestrels he helped rescue and get to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center for care.

“Joe taught me to listen deeply,” Shanahan said. “Joe was a man of incredible authenticity, profound integrity and immense compassion.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach sat among the mourners.

A procession of about 3,000 officers escorted Gomm’s casket from the church to Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville where he will be laid to rest. Hundreds of people lined the 9-mile (15-kilometer) procession route in tribute to the officer.


This story has been corrected to show the church is in Arden Hills, not Arden Heights.