Man who shot Burnsville officers and firefighter tried to have gun rights restored after assault conviction

Man who shot Burnsville officers and firefighter tried to have gun rights restored after assault conviction

The man who fatally shot two Burnsville police officers and a firefighter/paramedic had a history of domestic violence and a lifetime ban on possessing firearms, according to a court record.

Police responded early Sunday on a call of a domestic situation where a man reported to be armed was barricaded with family members in a home.

The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office confirmed Monday that Shannon Gooden, 38, of Burnsville, also died in the incident, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating.

Early on Tuesday, the medical examiner’s office released Gooden’s manner of death as suicide, with the cause listed as a gunshot wound of the head.

Gooden was found dead in the house after law enforcement said he opened fire, killing Burnsville Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth. A police sergeant was also injured.

Gooden pleaded guilty in 2008 to assault with a dangerous weapon and he petitioned the court in 2020 to have his right restored to possess firearms, saying he’d only had traffic offenses since then and wanted to be able to protect himself and his family.

But the Dakota County attorney’s office wrote at the time that “the interest of public safety outweighs any private interest” Gooden may have.

House was a rental

Law enforcement said Sunday that “several guns and large amounts of ammunition” were found in the home, which Burnsville police were dispatched to about 1:50 a.m. Sunday. Someone in the house in the 12600 block of 33rd Avenue South had called 911, BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said during a Sunday news conference, without offering further details about the call.

When officers arrived, the armed suspect was barricaded inside the home with family members, including seven children between the ages of 2 and 15, Evans said.

After talking with police negotiators for “quite a bit of time,” the suspect opened fire on officers who were inside the home, and multiple officers returned fire, according to Evans. The gunman fired from several locations inside the two-story house, which is located in a wooded neighborhood just west of the junction of Interstate 35E and Cedar Avenue.

During the incident, someone called 911 from inside the home and reported, “the dad is down,” according to an emergency radio dispatch. The person reported the man been shot in the leg earlier and “just shot himself in the head.”

The other family members left the home and are safe, the city of Burnsville said in a Sunday announcement. The BCA won’t have further updates until their preliminary investigation is complete, a spokesperson said Monday.

Gooden had five children, he wrote in a 2019 affidavit and one was 11 months old at the time. Four of them are currently 7, 12, 14 and 15, according to other court filings. Gooden said in the 2019 court filing that he provided care for his girlfriend’s children, then ages 8 and 10.

Noemi Torres, the mother of Gooden’s three older children, said when they were together he would threaten to kill her if she called the police.

“He would definitely have a standoff,” she said Monday, though she said he didn’t have guns back then. “… It was going to go down.”

She said her children were in the home during the shootings and she received a text message from Gooden’s girlfriend afterward saying she needed to pick the kids up. Torres’ 12-year-old later told her that her father asked, “Do you want to go with me?,” which she took to mean to also die.

In an ongoing custody case between Gooden and Torres, Gooden previously sought more parenting time than Torres and received it, court records show. A hearing had previously been scheduled in the case for Tuesday.

Gooden was living in the 33rd Avenue home, which was being rented out by its owners. A court filing in a civil matter — an insurance company trying to collect $5,400 after they said Gooden negligently reversed and collided with another vehicle in 2021 in Burnsville — showed Gooden was served at the address in December.

A relative of Gooden’s said the family didn’t want to comment Monday.

Past cases

Minnesota court records show prosecutors charged Gooden in 2005 with domestic assault, interfering with a 911 call and disorderly conduct in a Burnsville case.

A woman reported Gooden “was being violent with her” and they were arguing when she picked up the phone and told him she was going to call the police, the Dakota County attorney’s office wrote in the court filing opposing his motion to restore his firearms rights. He hit the phone away, breaking it, and the woman “stated that she was very scared the entire time they were arguing” and had never seen him that upset, the court document said.

Gooden pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and the other charges were dismissed.

In 2007, also in Burnsville, the Dakota County attorney’s office charged Gooden with making terroristic threats, criminal damage to property and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

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Gooden was in a shopping center when security officers escorted him out due to an argument about harassing phone calls that a woman suspected he made to her. The woman’s mother and brother arrived, and Gooden and the woman’s brother squared off to fight. Gooden took a folding knife out of his pocket, which witnesses said was about 7 inches when extended, and ran toward the woman’s brother while yelling he was going to stab him, the county attorney’s document said.

A security guard disarmed Gooden. Gooden threw landscaping rocks at the woman’s brother, who’d climbed onto his mother’s vehicle to get away, and hit him with them. The vehicle was damaged by the rocks.

Gooden pleaded guilty to assault in 2008 and the other charges were dismissed. It was a felony charge, with the conviction deemed a misdemeanor. His jail sentence was stayed and he was placed on probation for five years. The conviction for a crime of violence came with a lifetime ban on possessing firearms, the county attorney’s office wrote.

Attempt to legally own firearms

Minnesota law says a court may restore a person’s firearm rights if they show good cause and have been released from physical confinement. Gooden filed a petition requesting restoration in 2020.

“The ability to possess and operate a firearm is one of the most cherished rights for many Americans,” Gooden’s attorney wrote in the petition. “It is not only a cherished right but also a comfort to Mr. Gooden knowing that he can protect his family. Mr. Gooden has spent the past 12 years making up for the poor decisions he made when he was much younger and less mature.

“His dedication to his family, ability to better himself through anger management and parenting classes, ability to maintain employment and his law abiding behavior for the past 12 years, absent minor traffic offenses, indicate that he is capable of handling a firearm responsibly if this right is restored to him,” the attorney continued.

Gooden earned his associate degree from Dakota County Technical College in 2013 and had been working at the same collision repair center for seven years as of a 2019 affidavit.

The Dakota County attorney’s office wrote in its memo opposing Gooden’s request that one of his character witnesses in his firearm restoration request filed an order for protection against him in 2017 alleging domestic violence, saying he “head butted” her face, causing a concussion and black eye, and threw her down the stairs. The court dismissed the action because she didn’t appear in court.

The woman listed her address as the 33rd Avenue home in Burnsville in her 2019 letter in support of his firearm restoration case.

In 2020, Torres filed for an order for protection and alleged Gooden told his current girlfriend to beat her up while they were arranging for child exchange, the prosecutor’s memo said. She also alleged that in 2014, they were in an argument and Gooden grabbed a knife and cut her clothes and “side swiped” her foot, which resulted in her falling down stairs. She said she believed he was going to kill her.

In arguing against a judge restoring Gooden’s gun rights, a prosecutor wrote that Gooden didn’t mention the orders for protection and “his continued traffic violations demonstrate his continued disregard to obey the law.” She also wrote that it had only been seven years since he was released from probation.

“The legislature’s intent in creating a lifetime ban for those that commit felony crimes of violence is to prevent future dangerous acts because felons who have been convicted of a crime of violence are more likely to reoffend,” the prosecutor wrote.

Dakota County District Judge Dannia Edwards wrote “motion to restore firearm rights denied” in an October 2020 court filing.

Nick Ferraro contributed to this report.

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