What We Know About Minnesota Shooting That Killed 2 Officers and One Firefighter

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
February 20, 2024US News
What We Know About Minnesota Shooting That Killed 2 Officers and One Firefighter
Burnsville police officers Matthew Ruge (R) and Paul Elmstrand in an undated photo. (City of Burnsville via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS—Two police officers and a firefighter who responded to a domestic situation at a suburban Minneapolis home were killed early Sunday during a standoff by a heavily armed man who shot at police from the home where seven children were also inside.

The suspect is dead, and another police officer was injured in the shooting in a neighborhood in Burnsville, Minnesota, a city of about 64,000 people near Minneapolis.

What Happened?

Investigators are still putting together details of the shooting, which unfolded from a domestic call.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said late Monday that Burnsville Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic who was assigned to the city’s SWAT team, died of gunshot wounds in the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis shortly after 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

The suspect was identified by the authorities as Shannon Gooden, 38, of Burnsville, and the medical examiner said Tuesday that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Officials had said Mr. Gooden was armed with multiple guns and large amounts of ammunition. He had barricaded himself inside the home with his family, who included seven children ages 2 to 15.

Court records show Mr. Gooden wasn’t legally allowed to have guns and had been entangled in a yearslong dispute over the custody and financial support of his three oldest children.

According to court records, the state barred Mr. Gooden from possessing guns after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors said he threw rocks and pulled a knife on a man in a Burnsville shopping mall parking lot.

An attorney representing Mr. Gooden in the custody dispute, Robert Manson, did not return a telephone message Monday seeking comment.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said Sunday’s negotiations lasted for hours before Mr. Gooden opened fire. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said the standoff lasted four hours before a SWAT team entered the home.

Mr. Gooden shot at officers from multiple positions in the home, including the upper and lower floors, Ms. Evans said. At least one officer was shot inside. A police armored vehicle sustained bullet damage to its windshield.

“We still don’t know the exact exchange of gunfire that occurred,” Ms. Evans said. “Certainly several officers did return fire.”

Around 8 a.m. Sunday, Mr. Gooden was found dead. The family and children were released. None were hurt.


NTD Photo
Zach Osterberg, of the Savage Fire Department, hugs his son Lincoln as they paid their respect at three memorials in front of the Burnsville Police Department in Burnsville, Minn., on Feb. 19, 2024. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

‘They Are Heroes’

Mr. Elmstrand joined the police department in 2017, and was a member of its mobile command staff. His wife, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita, told WCCO-TV they began dating in high school after attending the same schools since kindergarten. They were married five years and had two children, a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old.

Mr. Elmstrand was a levelheaded person who loved his job and didn’t complain, despite horrible things he saw as part of his job, she said.

“I think he just had to be the hero. He had to do what he thought was right to protect those little lives even if it meant putting his (life) at risk and it breaks my heart because now he’s gone. But I know that he thought what he did was right,” she told the station.

Mr. Ruge, hired in 2020, was on the department’s crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer.

Authorities say Mr. Finseth was shot while giving aid to one of the officers.

Another police officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was released from a hospital Monday after suffering injuries that were not life-threatening, officials said.

“We’re hurting,” said Police Chief Tanya Schwartz. “Today, three members of our team made the ultimate sacrifice for this community. They are heroes.”

NTD Photo
Burnsville firefighter and paramedic Adam Finseth in an undated photo. (City of Burnsville via AP)

Community, State Mourns

The Minnesota House and Senate observed moments of silence Monday as Burnsville-area lawmakers paid tributes to the fallen officers and firefighter.

Flags in Minnesota have been lowered to half-staff in honor of those killed. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz urged people walking past them to remember the fallen first responders.

“Minnesota mourns with you,” he said. “The state stands ready to assist in any way possible.”

Hundreds of people, including officers from other departments, gathered Sunday night outside Burnsville City Hall for a candlelight vigil for the victims.

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig said, “I can’t imagine the pain that you’re all going through, but what I can say is that to all our officers out there, the paramedics, our firefighters, thank you for what you do.”

Area resident Kris Martin said, “It’s an important community, and we feel very saddened by what happened.”

By Jack Dura and Steve Karnowski

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