Community remembers fallen Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge

Burnsville community remembers Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge

Burnsville community remembers Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge

The Burnsville community is honoring the sacrifice of the two police officers who were killed Sunday morning

Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, were shot and killed while responding to a domestic call in a Burnsville neighborhood. Firefighter and paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, also died.

Flowers were stacked high honoring the three heroes on Monday.

Officer Paul Elmstrand, Firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth and Officer Matthew Ruge. (Courtesy photos)

Elmstrand joined the Burnsville police in August 2017 before becoming a police officer two years later.

According to the University of Northwestern Alumni Facebook page, Elmstrand is survived by his wife, his 2-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son. 

In a statement, Elmstrand’s wife, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita, said, “Our family is heartbroken at Paul’s death. He was an amazing husband, father, son, and friend to many. He loved to laugh and loved to play. He was the most generous, loving, patient person I’ve ever known with the biggest smile. He would stay awake so others could sleep. He could make anyone in a room feel welcome. He wore the same pair of pants and the most basic clothes so that he could spoil me and our children. He had a servant’s heart and would drop everything to help someone who was in need, whether it be family, friend or someone on the street. He loved his job as a police officer and had a strong bond with those he worked with, but he always placed his family first. He had an inner confidence that was anchored in his faith in Jesus Christ.”

(Family photo)

Steve Gibbs, principal of Cambridge-Isanti High School, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he had known Elmstrand since he was in elementary school. Gibbs taught fourth grade and was the assistant middle school principal in the district. 

“Paul sadly died doing what he felt like he was called to do,” Gibbs said. “Ever since I knew him in fourth grade, he just had a kind heart and he lived to serve those. That was who he was from a young age.” 

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Fallen officer Ruge joined the force in April 2020 and was part of the crisis negotiation team. Ruge graduated from the law enforcement program at Minnesota State University Mankato. 

In a statement, MSU Mankato President Edward Inch extended his sympathies, saying, in part, “We must remember that even in dark times, our community is strong and resilient.” 

A mourner lays flowers on a memorial for two Burnsville police officers — Adam Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge — who died in the line of duty. (KSTP)

Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz says neighboring agencies will help cover shifts as the department mourns.

“It is a difficult time for us, and a mourning period is going to go on,” Kautz said. “They come knowing they’re going to put their lives on the line. And for me, it’s not just about them, but it’s about their families because when they come to work and they give their lives to do their job and provide excellent service, their whole family comes with them.”

Community members gathering at the memorial told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are heartbroken for the family.

Robin Puttin was seen handing out bracelets that read, “You are important.”

“We have to hold each other up and we have to love and just believe things will get better,” Puttin said.

The city has announced a fundraiser for people to donate to help the families of the fallen first responders and noted it’s the only contribution site the city is part of, urging people to beware of scammers. Donations can be made to Law Enforcement Labor Services here, and donors should write “Burnsville Heroes” in the comments. Non-monetary contributions can be brought to Prince of Peace Church in Burnsville