Officer Matthew Ruge’s parents speak out for first time since son’s death

On the eve of their son’s memorial, the parents of fallen Burnsville Officer Matthew Ruge released a public statement for the first time since his death.

The Burnsville Police Department shared the message from Sean Ruge and Christin Henke on Tuesday, praising the officer’s heart of service and thanking everyone who has supported them through this painful time.

Officer Ruge’s parents said he was “the light of our lives” and the type of person who “never hesitated to drop what he was doing to help a neighbor or a friend in need.”

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Ruge, 27, graduated from Wabasha-Kellogg High School in 2015 and went on to complete a law enforcement program at the Minnesota State University Mankato in 2018. He joined the Burnsville Police Department two years later.

His parents said Ruge “wanted to help and protect people” and that policing was his “true calling” in life.

“He said he wanted to be there for people when they were having the worst days of their lives and help them overcome their challenges,” Ruge’s parents wrote.

Ruge, Officer Paul Elmstrand and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth were all shot and killed on Feb. 18 while responding to a report of domestic abuse in a Burnsville neighborhood.

Ruge and Elmstrand were part of the negotiation team that was inside the house with the eventual shooter, Shannon Gooden, for close to three and a half hours, trying to convince him to come quietly.

“Matthew was a true hero. He was proud to call his fellow officers at the Burnsville Police Department his brothers and sisters,” Ruge’s parents wrote. “He did not hesitate to risk himself to save others. He was part of the solution, not part of a problem. He continues to be the light of our lives; he is greatly missed, but will be with us always and will continue to inspire us to be kind and make the world better every day.”

His family concluded by sharing their gratitude and asking for continued support.

“Thank you all for your overwhelming and constant support,” they wrote. “Please continue to pray for us and all the grieving families, friends and especially the incredible law enforcement and first responder community.”

A public memorial for the three first responders is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. A procession is planned afterward, with the route set to depart from the church before winding through the City of Burnsville.

Click here for more details on the memorial and procession.