A female prison guard has been killed by an inmate at a maximum-security men’s prison near Abilene in Texas, authorities said.
The 55-year-old correctional officer, who’d worked for the prison service since 2009, was pronounced dead at the medical center.
“The state of Texas mourns for Mari Johnson, a correctional officer who was senselessly murdered last night by an inmate,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted to Twitter on Saturday night.
“Like all those who faithfully serve, Mari was dedicated to protecting others, and her service will not be forgotten,” Abbott added, promising that the perpetrator would receive “swift justice.”
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed Johnson’s death was being investigated as a homicide. But, so far, no potential suspects have been named. The circumstances surrounding her death are also currently unclear.
“She will never be forgotten. We will see that the offender who committed this cowardly act is held accountable,” the TDCJ’s executive director, Brad Livingston, said via a statement.
Dale Wainwright, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, echoed his sentiments and said it was “difficult to put into words the loss felt by the department.”
“I ask the public to remember their acts of unselfishness, remember their many acts of courage, and remember the dedication and commitment demonstrated every day by correctional officers,” he added. “Please pray for this officer’s friends, family, and the department during this time.”
The French Robertson Unit, located 10 miles northeast of Abilene, houses a maximum of 2,984 inmates. It has a total of 683 employees, 510 of which are classed as “security,” according to the TDCJ website.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Dale Wainwright was chairman of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He is chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.