Slain Burnsville Officers, Paramedic Were Iraq Veteran, Honor Guard Member & Crisis Negotiator

paul elmstrand

Burnsville PD The Burnsville police officer and parademic who were killed: Officer Paul Elmstrand, Officer Matthew Ruge, Paramedic Adam Finseth.

The Burnsville police officers and paramedic who were shot and killed on February 18 in Minnesota have been identified as Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and fire paramedic Adam Finseth. Finseth was an Iraq war veteran. Elmstrand got his start in a law enforcement explorers’ program and served on the police Honor Guard. Ruge was a trained crisis negotiator.

“Our Force Investigations Unit is investigating an incident in Burnsville. A man who shot and killed two officers and a paramedic has also died. More details to come once our preliminary investigation is complete,” the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension wrote. The suspect has not been named by authorities, but the Minnesota news site Alpha News identified him as Shannon Cortez Gooden.

“The Burnsville community is mourning the loss of Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth,” The City of Burnsville wrote in a press release emailed to Heavy.

“At 1:50 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, Burnsville Police were called to the 12600 block of 33rd Avenue South on a report of a domestic situation where a man reported to be armed was barricaded with family members. After arriving, the situation escalated into gunfire with responders,” the release says.

“Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth were killed by the gunman during the response. One other Police Officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was injured and transported to a hospital where he is believed to have non-life-threatening injuries.” According to the release, “At approximately 8 a.m., the suspect was reported to be dead. Later in the morning, the other family members left the home and are safe. There is no ongoing threat. Residents are asked to allow public safety personnel to perform their duties and stay away from the area until further notice.”

“The Burnsville Police Department has 75 sworn officers and 19 civilian employees,” the department’s website says.

adam medlicott

Burnsville PDAdam Medlicott, Sgt.

Here’s what you need to know about each deceased victim:

Officer Paul Elmstrand: Remembered as a ‘Bright, Intelligent Young Man’

paul elmstrand

Burnsville PDPaul Elmstrand, Burnsville police officer.

Elmstrand had been a Burnsville police officer since 2017, starting as a community service officer, the release said. He was 27.

“Elmstrand, 27, joined the Burnsville Police Department in August 2017 as a Community Service Officer. He was promoted to Officer in July 2019. He was part of the department’s mobile command staff, peer team, Honor Guard and field training unit,” the release said.

Before he became an officer he was part of the Isanti County Law Enforcement Explorers Program, “which allowed teenagers to participate in law enforcement training, ride-alongs, community service, and other law enforcement activities,” KARE 11 reported.

A 2014 news article in The Press mentioned that Elmstrand was part of that program.

“Very sad to hear about 3 first responder who were killed in the line of duty this morning in Burnsville, MN,” a man wrote on Facebook. “The first picture is Paul Elmstrand. He grew up in a church that I served as pastor. A bright intelligent young man who was raised in a wonderful family.”

Officer Matthew Ruge: A Trained Crisis Negotiator

matthew ruge

Burnsville PDBurnsville Police Officer Matthew Ruge

Ruge had been a Burnsville police officer since 2020.

“Ruge, 27, joined the Burnsville Police Department in April 2020. He was part of the department’s crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer,” the release says.

Paramedic Adam Finseth: A Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Adam Finseth

Burnsville PDAdam Finseth, paramedic.

“Finseth, 40, has been a Burnsville Firefighter/Paramedic since February 2019,” the release says.

He served in Iraq, according to a tribute post on Facebook.

Jim Etzen wrote on Facebook, “My heart is broken. Firefighter / Paramedic Adam Finseth, killed this morning in Burnsville (Minnesota), was an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Infantry Squad Leader. He had attended one of the nation’s oldest and finest SWAT Medic training programs in 2021. Prayers for Adam, Officers Paul (Elmstrand) and Matthew Ruge, those injured, and their families at home and off the job. Thanks to everyone standing a post here and abroad. You’re appreciated by many and truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

adam Finseth

LinkedInAdam Finseth

On his LinkedIn page, Finseth wrote that he had worked as an emergency department technician for Abbott Northwestern Hospital for more than 13 years.

Before that he worked for Northfield EMS, and as a veterans resource center representative for Hennepin Technical College. He went to South Central College in the intensive care paramedicine program and had a fire suppression certificate as a firefighter EMT from Hennepin Technical College, where he was in the Veterans Club. He was a graduate of John Marshall High School, where he ran cross country and track.

He served as an infantry squad leader in the U.S. Army from 2003 through 2009, his LinkedIn page says.

“Deployed a total of twenty-five months with Bravo Company, 1st battalion 327th Infantry in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Responsible for leading and training a seven to nine man rifle squad for pre-deployment and overseas operations in Iraq. Developed basic leadership knowledge and skills. Accountable for over $1,439,847 of assigned squad equipment,” the page says.

Finseth’s grandmother’s obit says he was married to Tara Finseth, a registered nurse, according to LinkedIn.

Minnesota’s Governor Says the Officers & Paramedic Were ‘Responding to a Call of a Family in Danger

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz wrote on X, “Horrific news from Burnsville. While responding to a call of a family in danger, two police officers and one firefighter lost their lives, and other officers were injured.”

He added, “We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our police officers and first responders make every day. My heart is with their families today and the entire State of Minnesota stands with Burnsville.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara and Mayor Jacob Frey spoke to Fox9 about the Burnsville tragedy.

The interview was supposed to be about other issues, but they were asked about the Burnsville police shooting.

“I was with the Burnsville police chief this morning as well as several members of this department. And our hearts go out to Chief Tanya Schwartz and the members of Burnsville police and all the families affected by this tragedy. It’s a reminder of the nature of police work,” said O’Hara, noting that policing is a “noble” profession.

O’Hara said officers have to be prepared “on a moment’s notice to put their lives on the line,” adding that “we ask a whole lot of police officers in this country today.”

Frey said there was “a lot of solidarity today” between cities as well as the law enforcement community. He called policing an “honorable” profession in which people run towards danger.

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