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Minnesota community mourns police, paramedic killed during house call

Officials identified police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and firefighter Adam Finseth, 40, as those shot dead at the scene.
Minnesota community mourns police, paramedic killed during house call
Posted at 12:55 PM, Feb 19, 2024

A Minnesota community is in mourning after a domestic house call led to the death of two police officers and a paramedic responding to the scene. 

The incident happened in Burnsville, Minnesota, when officers responded to a call from a residence of a family in danger around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Officials identified Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, as the officers killed at the scene. Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic, was also shot dead. 

Police Chief Tanya Schwartz described the department as a family, remembering Elmstrand for his service since 2017, Ruge for serving the city since 2019, and Finseth for his five years of service to Burnsville. 

"Three members of our team made the ultimate sacrifice for this community. They are heroes," Schwartz said in a press conference Sunday.

"Every day we want them to go home to their families. Every day we pray that they go home to their families. And today, that's not happening," she said. "We are all hurting. Our officers, our fire department, our families, all of our staff, our community — we're heartbroken."

When authorities responded to the scene early Sunday, they were met with a heavily armed man who had barricaded family members in the home. Police said he had several guns and rounds of ammunition. Seven children, ranging in age from 2 to 15, were among those trapped inside. 

Officers engaged in hours of negotiations at the scene. City officials said the man opened fire on police from multiple positions within the home, ultimately killing the three responders in the line of duty.

"This is really a terrible day for the city of Burnsville, all of the residents, the law enforcement and fire communities that are mourning the loss of these public servants," Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said in a press briefing Sunday.

By 8 a.m. Sunday, the armed man was reported deceased. At that time, all family members, including the children, were able to escape safely.

Police say they are still trying to piece together the string of events at the scene, including details on the shootings. 

"We still don't know the exact exchange of gunfire that occurred," Evans said. "Certainly, several officers did return fire."

As far as the man responsible for the officers' deaths, the city said it would be up to the medical examiner's office to provide an official identification. 

Officials said at this time they are not aware of many calls made to the home in the past. It is not yet clear what led to the situation that prompted the call for help. 

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered all flags to be lowered at half-staff in honor of the fallen officers and paramedic.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of Burnsville City Hall Sunday night for a candlelight vigil honoring the victims.

An investigation remains active and ongoing. 

Scripps News has reached out to the Burnsville Police Department for more information.

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