NATIONAL NEWS

What to know about the Minnesota shooting that killed 2 police officers and a firefighter

Feb 19, 2024, 8:05 AM | Updated: Feb 20, 2024, 1:54 pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Authorities in Minnesota are continuing to investigate the killings of two police officers and a firefighter who responded to a domestic incident at home in suburban Minneapolis. Investigators say the three were slain by an armed man who opened fire on responders from the home while seven children were inside.

Killed early Sunday were 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. A third officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was also shot but survived and is recovering at home.

The gunman, Shannon Gooden, 38, of Burnsville, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the medical examiner said Tuesday. Court records show he wasn’t legally allowed to have guns because of his criminal record and had been entangled in a yearslong dispute over the custody and financial support of his three oldest children.

Here’s a look at what’s known — and not known — about the shootings, which shook Burnsville, a city of around 64,000 located about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of downtown Minneapolis:

WHAT’S KNOWN

Police got a 911 call around 1:50 a.m. Sunday about a “domestic situation where a man was reported to be armed and barricaded with family members in the home,” according to Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation. That included seven children ages 2 to 15 years. Evans declined to say which resident called.

The arriving officers “spent quite a bit of time” negotiating with Gooden, Evans told reporters Sunday. At some point — he declined to specify when — Gooden opened fire, killing the two officers and the firefighter, and wounding the third officer.

Gooden was “reported to be deceased in the home” around 8 a.m., Evans said, and the children and other family members were later able to escape. The superintendent declined to say how long officers negotiated with him.

WHAT ISN’T KNOWN

Because the case is still under investigation, the BCA hasn’t released more than broad outlines of what transpired on Sunday. That’s common in major cases as investigators seek to gather all the available evidence, including statements from everybody involved, and review body camera and other videos, process the ballistic and other evidence, and review the medical examiner’s reports.

But that also leaves major gaps in the narrative of what happened. BCA and Burnsville officials haven’t said exactly what the 911 caller reported or who made the call, except that it was a resident. The audio recordings and transcripts aren’t public data under Minnesota law because they’re part of the “active criminal investigation,” the city’s communications office said.

Evans declined to say what kind of weapons Gooden had, except that investigators found “several guns and large amounts of ammunition.”

Authorities also haven’t said how Gooden obtained the guns. Court records show the state barred him from possessing firearms after he pleaded guilty in 2008, when he was 22, to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors said he threw rocks and pulled a knife on a man in a shopping mall parking lot. He unsuccessfully petitioned a court in 2020 to have his gun rights restored.

THE VICTIMS

Elmstrand, who grew up in North Branch, joined the Burnsville Police Department in 2017 as a community service officer and became a full-fledged officer in 2019. He was a member of the mobile command staff. Ruge, who grew up in Wabasha, joined the force in 2020. He was part of the crisis negotiations team. Finseth was an Army veteran from Rochester who was twice deployed to Iraq. He joined the fire department in 2019. Medlicott joined the police department in 2014 and was promoted to sergeant in 2022. He was named Burnsville Officer of the Year in 2020.

THE INVESTIGATION

The BCA hasn’t laid out a timetable for completing its investigation. BCA spokeswoman Bonney Bowman said the bureau didn’t plan to issue any updates Tuesday but may issue a news release by the end of the week.

The one-page reports issued by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office late Monday and early Tuesday confirmed that the two officers and firefighter died of gunshot wounds in the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis shortly after 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Gooden died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but the office didn’t give a time for his death.

THE COMMUNITY AND STATE MOURN

Flags have been flying at half-staff at public and other buildings across Minnesota. Hundreds of people, including officers from other departments, gathered Sunday night outside Burnsville City Hall for a candlelight vigil. The Minnesota House and Senate observed moments of silence Monday.

A procession of emergency vehicles escorted Finseth’s body from the medical examiner to a funeral home Monday, passing under several bridges where firefighters stood on their parked engines and flew American flags in tribute. But funeral arrangements have not been announced. A similar procession was held for Elmstrand and Ruge on Tuesday.

Complete service arrangements have not been announced. Sara Elmstead said her son’s funeral will be Saturday at Woodridge Community Church in Long Lake and that she believed a larger police funeral for all the officers would be scheduled next week.

The city is steering people who want to contribute to the victims’ families to a site run by the union that represents Burnsville officers, Law Enforcement Labor Services. The city is warning residents to beware of scam fundraisers seeking to exploit the tragedy.

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What to know about the Minnesota shooting that killed 2 police officers and a firefighter