One week later: Reflecting on the ‘toughest day’ Burnsville ‘has ever experienced’

One week later: Reflecting on the ‘toughest day’ Burnsville ‘has ever experienced’

One week later: Reflecting on the ‘toughest day’ Burnsville ‘has ever experienced’

Sunday marked exactly one week since Burnsville Fire Chief BJ Jungmann, in an initial press conference following the shooting death of two police officers and a firefighter/paramedic, described it as “the toughest day the City of Burnsville and our public safety family have ever experienced.”

It was a harrowing scene last Sunday in the sleepy suburb of Burnsville.

A suspect opened fire as Burnsville police officers tried to negotiate with him in his home following a 911 call, reporting a sexual assault allegation.

Shannon Gooden, 38, fired more than 100 rounds at first responders, according to the latest update from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27 years old, died from gunshot wounds and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, was killed as he tried to render aid to the wounded officers, according to the press release from a BCA spokesperson.

“This is a hard day. It’s a really hard day for our public safety family,” Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz said at the initial Feb. 18 press conference. “We’re hurting.”

Before the sun rose on Monday, flowers had already begun to pile atop emergency vehicles. The mementos did not begin to measure the grief of the community as reality set in and three families were forever stripped of their heroes.

Tara Finseth, Adam Finseth’s widow, wrote in her first public statement released on Sunday, “We are broken. Our children will grow up without their ‘Papa.’ My soul mate is no longer here to wrap me in his arms and live out the life we had so intimately planned.”

Finseth was also an Army veteran. He served two tours in Iraq, retiring with 13 service awards.

To his longtime friends, “he’s just a hero.”

His former coworker from Northfield Hospital and Clinics EMS, Brian Edwards, called the news of Finseth’s death “devastating,” adding, “It didn’t surprise me that he was there doing the job that needed to be done.”

Officer Elmstrand had a 2-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son. His widow, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita described him as “the most generous, loving, patient person I’ve ever known with the biggest smile.”

Elmstrand is remembered fondly by his church family too.

“Man he loved Cindy, and she loves Paul,” Woodridge Church Pastor Zac Bush said.

Elmstrand had “a heart of sacrifice, of selflessness, of servitude,” he added.

Officer Ruge was a stand-out dating back to his days at Wabasha-Kellogg High School, according to his former role models there who now view Ruge as someone to aspire to be like.

Ruge was an honors student and a member of the all-state golf team at the high school.

“One word I can think of is integrity,” said his former golf coach, Jerry Dalen.

“What made him remarkable was like the things that we’re striving for all of our young people to have, which is kindness, friendliness and just really a good all-around person,” said former Wabasha-Kellogg School District superintendent Jim Freihammer.

The week could be counted in vigils and processions, culminating in a convoy on Saturday in which thousands of people — many of whom never met the fallen first responders — came out to show their families and fellow first responders, “We’re here for you.”

A celebration of life ceremony is scheduled on Sunday evening for Officer Paul Elmstrand at Cambridge-Isanti High School.

There were seven children in the Burnsville home as the tragic incident unfolded over the course of several hours last Sunday, according to investigators. The shooting suspect, Shannon Gooden, had a prior record, including a lifetime ban from possessing guns and multiple petitions for orders for protection were filed against him in the last 6.5 years.