Oak Park Heights, MN – Minnesota Department of Corrections Officer Joseph Parise died in the line of duty on Monday, after he rushed to save a fellow correctional officer who was being attacked by an inmate.
Correctional Officer Parise, 37, experienced a “medical emergency” after the violent altercation at the Oak Park Heights correctional facility, the Star Tribune reported.
He was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he was pronounced dead.
His exact cause of death has yet to be determined.
"We are deeply saddened by today's events," Minnesota Department of Corrections Spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald said. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to Officer Parise's family, friends and all of his fellow officers.”
Correctional Officer Parise was one of several officers who jumped into the melee when the inmate repeatedly punched another prison employee in the face at about noon on Sept. 24, the department said.
Two other employees were injured during the altercation. Both were treated at the hospital and have been released.
Correctional Officer Parise, the married father of a young daughter with another child on the way, served the Department of Corrections for four years, according to a fundraising page established to assist his family in the wake of his tragic death.
“Officer Parise always put others before himself,” the page read. “He will be missed, but you will always be with us BROTHER. We will take your watch from here.”
“We join in mourning with our correctional brothers and sisters. We grieve with the family of our AFSCME member," the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 union told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. "We offer our deepest respects to our fallen brother for his courage and his service.”
AFSCME Local 915 Vice President and fellow Correctional Officer Derek Magle described Correctional Officer Parise as “fun, charismatic, [and] positive,” according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
“He always worried about other staff before he worried about himself. When you were having issues, he would reach out to try to help,” Correctional Officer Magle said.
The U.S. Navy veteran was also a member of the Oak Park Heights honor guard, he added.
“Officer Joseph Parise was a dedicated state employee, who worked hard every day to protect the safety of his colleagues and our communities,” Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement on Monday night.
“We are deeply saddened by Officer Parise’s sudden and tragic death. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I offer my heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow Corrections Officers,” the governor wrote.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Minnesota Department of Corrections Officer Joseph Parise, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Corrections Officer Joseph Parise, your life mattered.