Correctional officer killed in west Texas prison

- A correctional officer was killed by an inmate at the Robertson Unit in Abilene early on Saturday. That officer has been identified as 55-year-old Mari Johnson. She was found unresponsive near the kitchen of the prison,
according to a statement released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Johnson was taken to Hendrick Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

"Ms. Johnson made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this state safe," said Dale Wainwright, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, in a statement posted on the institution's website on Saturday. "She will never be forgotten. We will see that the offender who committed this cowardly act is held accountable."

Johnson was employed with the TDCJ since August 2009.

"In times like these, it's difficult to put into words the loss felt by the department when a correctional officer dies in the line of duty," added Wainwright.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also released the following statement on Johnson's death on Saturday afternoon:

The State of Texas mourns for Mari Johnson, a correctional officer who was senselessly murdered last night by an inmate at the Robertson Unit in Abilene, TX. Like all those who faithfully serve, Mari was dedicated to protecting others, and her service will not be forgotten. Cecilia and I ask that all Texans keep the Johnson family in their thoughts and prayers in the aftermath of this unfathomably tragic event. Texas will ensure the perpetrator receives swift justice and TDCJ has been instructed to take all necessary measures to enhance the safety of their staff to prevent such tragedies.

The name of the inmate suspected in killing Johnson was not released nor were the circumstances surrounding her death.

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