Burnsville to take down memorial for fallen first responders on Sunday

Burnsville officials said on Sunday the city will begin decommissioning the memorial for the three first responders who were shot and killed in the line of duty last month.

Police officer Paul Elmstrand, 27; firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth, 40; and police officer Matthew Ruge, 27, died on Feb. 18 during a standoff that stemmed from a report of a sexual assault. The suspect, 38-year-old Shannon Gooden, took his own life.

Messages of support and solidarity have poured in from all across the country, and more than 10,000 people attended public memorial services for the fallen first responders last week.

Ever since the events of Feb. 18, a memorial to honor Elmstrand, Finseth and Ruge has grown outside Burnsville City Hall. Mourners have piled flowers, trinkets and balloons on top of two police squad cars and a fire vehicle in their memory.

And on Friday, the city unveiled three statues portraying a police officer, a firefighter and a paramedic called “Homage.” The statues were commissioned years ago and have remained in storage while the city finds a permanent location for the installation.

The memorials and the statues will all come down starting on Sunday, which will mark 21 days since the first responders died. The city said it has “made a thoughtful plan” with the police and fire departments to care for the donated items.

“We are truly grateful for everyone who came to show their support and shared in our grief. Our community came together and made this space a place for unity,” the city said in a news release Tuesday.

Anyone still wishing to pay their respects at the memorial site is asked to do so by Saturday.

“Homage” will be returned to the Burnsville Community Foundation for the time being.

Burnsville spokeswoman Carissa Larsen said city officials have not yet begun discussions on a permanent memorial site.