2 police officers, paramedic die in Burnsville, Minnesota, shooting

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Editor's Note: For the latest news on the Burnsville, Minnesota, shootings, please see our file for Monday, Feb. 19.

Two police officers and a paramedic were fatally shot early Sunday while responding to a domestic abuse call in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, and the shooter has also died, authorities said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the victims were responding to a call of a "family in danger." Police were called at about 1:50 a.m. to a residence on a report of a domestic situation where a man was reportedly armed and barricaded with family members.

Seven children — ranging in age from 2 to 15 — were among those in the home when police arrived, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said during a news conference Sunday afternoon. Responding officers spent "quite a bit of time" negotiating with the suspect before the suspect opened fire, Evans added.

Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, as well as firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth, were killed, the city said in a statement. One other officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was injured and transported to a hospital with whar are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.

Finseth, part of a SWAT team that had been called to the scene, was providing aid to an injured officer when he was shot, authorities said.

Police swarmed the snow-covered, tree-shrouded neighborhood and "at approximately 8 a.m., the suspect was reported to be dead," the city said in a statement. No information was immediately available on a possible motive or how the suspect died.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating the shooting and said more details would be released upon completion of a preliminary investigation.

Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said the law enforcement community was "heartbroken."

"We’re just devastated at the horrific loss," he said in a statement. "These heroes leave behind loved ones and a community who will forever remember their bravery and dedication to keeping Minnesotans safe."

A police vehicle with what appears to be bullet pockmarks on its windshield is parked near the scene where two police officers and a first responder were shot and killed Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Burnsville, Minn.
A police vehicle with what appears to be bullet pockmarks on its windshield is parked near the scene where two police officers and a first responder were shot and killed Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Burnsville, Minn.


∎ The children and other family members were able to leave the home later in the morning and were safe, according to Evans. Residents were asked to avoid the scene as authorities continued to investigate.

∎ A shelter-in-place order sent to residents in the area shortly before 6 a.m. was lifted several hours later, KSTP.com reported.

∎ The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said its agents responded to the scene.

Suspect had several guns

Evans said authorities were still investigating the exchange of gunfire that occurred and noted that several officers had returned fire. Authorities will review officers' body-camera footage and conduct interviews as part of the investigation, according to Evans.

During the barricade situation, Evans said the suspect shot at officers from multiple positions within the home. The suspect had several guns and large amounts of ammunition.

At least one of the officers killed was shot inside the home and investigators are "still piecing together" where the other two victims were shot, Evans said.

Two officers, paramedic identified

Elmstrand, 27, joined the Burnsville Police Department in 2017 as a community service officer, according to the city. He was promoted to officer in 2019 and was part of the department’s mobile command staff, peer team, Honor Guard and field training unit.

Ruge, 27, joined the police department in 2020, the city said. He was part of the department’s crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer.

Finseth, 40, had been a firefighter-paramedic in Burnsville since 2019, according to the city.

The three victims were transported to the medical examiner's office in procession. Local television stations showed community members and first responders lining up on streets to honor the victims.

"It's a really hard day for our public safety family. We're hurting," Burnsville police Chief Tanya Schwartz said during the news conference. "Three members of our teams made the ultimate sacrifice for this community. They are heroes."

Dozens of people gathered in front of Burnsville City Hall on Sunday night for a candlelit vigil to remember the victims, the Associated Press reported. Several uniformed officers from other departments also attended, including many from St. Paul.

A fire truck and police vehicle were in front of the building. The police vehicle had bouquets of flowers on the hood and handwritten signs tucked under the windshield. Those gathered joined together in prayer and sang “Amazing Grace.”

“It’s an important community,” area resident Kris Martin told the Associated Press, “and we feel very saddened by what happened.”

Retired firefighter struggles with news

Pat Knaeble, a retired fire captain and paramedic with the Burnsville Fire Department, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he awoke Sunday to a chaotic scene outside his home. Knaeble, 68, said he watched SWAT team members bring three victims to the front of his house and into waiting ambulances. Having a fellow firefighter shot was hard to comprehend, he said.

"Firefighters never get shot," Knaeble said. "For that to happen is a huge fluke and just very, very sad. It’s like losing a family member.”

'The war on cops rages on'

Joe Gamaldi, national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, called the shootings "horrific" and said shootings of officers have risen 60%.

"The war on cops rages on. When have we had enough, America?" he said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a social media post that three officers were shot while "doing their jobs. They were protecting our community." She said she and her husband were praying for the victims, their families "and the Burnsville P.D. this morning."

Minneapolis police Chief Brian O'Hara, in a social media post, asked that people "keep Burnsville Police in your prayers."

Burnsville is a Dakota County city of 65,000 people less than 20 miles south of downtown Minneapolis. The city boasts on its website of being the ninth-largest suburb in the metro area and a "commuter’s dream" because of easy access to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

"Burnsville is a community where residents feel safe and welcome to be themselves," the city's website says. "Visitors find a place they want to come back to again and again, businesses are positioned for success, and city staff and team members find meaningful work and opportunities to grow and evolve."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Burnsville, Minnesota shooting: 2 police officers, first responder die