3 Burnsville first responders killed after domestic call escalates to gunfire; suspect also dead

Team coverage: 3 Burnsville first responders killed after domestic call escalates to gunfire

Team coverage: 3 Burnsville first responders killed after domestic call escalates to gunfire

Flags are at half-staff and Minnesotans are showing support Monday, a day after two police officers and one firefighter paramedic were killed in the line of duty.

Sunday morning, a domestic abuse call in Burnsville turned into a deadly armed confrontation when a man shot and killed two Burnsville police officers and one firefighter paramedic.

Officials with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed the suspect is also dead but did not share any details about how he died. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is working to learn more about the suspect.

Law enforcement, including armored vehicles and SWAT units, swarmed the area of 33rd Avenue and East Burnsville Parkway early Sunday morning after a man barricaded himself inside a home with family members just before 2 a.m., according to a news release from the City of Burnsville. The encounter escalated into an exchange of gunfire, killing three first responders and injuring another.

The city identified the deceased responders as Burnsville police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and paramedic Adam Finseth, a firefighter with the Burnsville Fire Department.

Another officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was taken to the hospital with injuries that are not considered to be life-threatening. The city announced Monday that Medlicott had been released from the hospital and is now recovering at home.

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.

From left to right: Officer Paul Elmstrand, Firefighter Adam Finseth and Officer Matthew Ruge (City of Burnsville)

The suspect was reported to be dead at around 8 a.m. BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said none of the other family members inside the home were harmed, including seven children ranging in age from 2 to 15.

A witness in the neighborhood told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they heard gunshots before receiving a notification telling residents to shelter in place. That shelter-in-place order was lifted around 10:30 a.m.

Evans said the shooter had multiple firearms and “large amounts” of ammunition and shot from multiple positions throughout the home. Numerous responders returned fire, and BCA investigators are still working to piece together all that happened in the fray.

Evans confirmed that at least one of the officers was shot inside the home and BCA is still investigating whether the other two were killed inside or outside of the home.

During a press conference held on Sunday, Burnsville City Manager Gregg Lindberg opened by saying, “Words can’t express how hard today has been… Thank you for giving us the grace, the patience and the understanding.”

“This is a hard day, a really hard day for our public safety family, we’re hurting. Today three members of our team made the ultimate sacrifice for this community, they are heroes,” said Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz. “Our police officers and our paramedics, they come to work every day, they do it willingly, they know that they might have to give up their life for their partners, for someone else. They know they have to give up their life sometimes and they do it anyways. Every day we want them to go home to their families, every day we pray they go home to their families and today, that’s not happening. We are all hurting… we’re heartbroken”

Burnsville Fire Chief BJ Jungmann added: “This is the toughest day that the city of Burnsville and our public safety families have ever experienced. My heart and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one in the line of duty today. This is a tragic day, we’re all grieving and we’re all trying to understand what happened and why. We’ve had an outpouring of support through our community which we greatly appreciate and at this time we ask our community to support each other and help each other grieve.”

Elmstrand, 27, joined the Burnsville Police Department in August 2017 as a community service officer before he was promoted to officer in July 2019.

Ruge, 27, joined the force in April 2020. He was part of the department’s crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer.

Finseth, 40, became a Burnsville firefighter and paramedic in Feb. 2019. Evans said Finseth was there to provide support to a responding SWAT team.

Medlicott has been with the police department for five years.

Neighbor Alex Martinez said, “We woke up with sounds, just like a pounding sound… and then all the sudden shots.”

“It hit my sister-in-law’s bedroom and they were looking out the window when it actually hit the window… they weren’t hurt but definitely, you know, rattled,” said neighbor Carmen Schaffer.

Bridgette Stewart, a longtime Burnsville resident, stated, “I would just ask people to pray for south of the river suburbs because this is a heavy one, it’s a heavy one.”

A vigil honoring the fallen first responders took place at 6:30 p.m. at Burnsville City Hall, with over 100 people coming to pay their respects.

“This is a caring community and we’ve all suffered a loss, a loss of our family,” said vigil-goer Dan McElroy. “We’re gonna grow from this and take care of each other. I hope everyone who sees this, when they see a police officer [or firefighter or paramedic], they’re going to say, ‘Thank you for your service.'”

Vigil honoring fallen first responders

Vigil honoring fallen first responders

Hundreds of first responders were congregated at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis to escort the bodies to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnetonka.

Elected officials and first responders poured out their condolences, including Gov. Tim Walz.

“We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our first responders make each and every day,” Walz said in a statement. “Today, the families of these public servants received the call they knew was possible but hoped would never come. My heart is with those grieving families – the State of Minnesota stands ready to support in any way we can. This is a tragic loss for our state.”

Walz added during the closing moments of the press conference: “To the families of Adam, Paul and Matt, Minnesota mourns with you, the state stands ready to assist in any way possible. When you see one of these flags at half-staff, that’s a sign of respect and mourning. But, it’s a time for each of us as you drive by those flags to maybe pause and think about these first responders, these public safety officials. They’re moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. They’re the world to a lot of people.”