2 officers, 1 first responder killed responding to domestic violence call in Minnesota; shooter also dead

February 19, 2024
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Two police officers and a first responder were killed in Burnsville, Minnesota, responding to “a call of a family in danger” Sunday morning, according Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

The city of Burnsville released a statement identifying those killed as officers Paul Elmstrand, 27, and Matthew Ruge, 27, as well as Adam Finseth, 40, who worked as a firefighter and paramedic. Another officer, Adam Medlicott, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our police officers and first responders make every day,” Walz said. “My heart is with their families today and the entire State of Minnesota stands with Burnsville.”

Medlicott was shot at the scene and is expected to survive, said Drew Evans, the superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz.

“Our folks come to work every day and are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice of their life, but no one expects it to happen,” Burnsville Fire Department Chief BJ Jungmann said at the Sunday press conference. He added that it was a “tragic day” and that “we are all grieving.”

Schwartz echoed that sentiment, calling the fallen officers “heroes.”

“Our police officers and our fire 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,” Schwartz said. “And you cannot understand it unless you’re in the profession.”

According to a statement from the city, police were called to a residence at 1:50 a.m. local time Sunday over a report that an armed man was barricaded inside with family members.

Evans called it a “domestic violence situation” and said there were seven children, aged 2-15, found inside the home with the suspect. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said earlier on social media that it responded to a scene “where there have been reports of officers involved in a domestic-related shooting.”

Evans said officers negotiated with the suspect while additional officers responded to the scene.

During those negotiations, the man opened fired, killing Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth, and injuring Medlicott.

Police gathered in a Burnsville, Minn., neighborhood on Feb. 18, 2024.
Police gathered in a Burnsville, Minn., neighborhood on Feb. 18, 2024.KARE 11

Evans said investigators were unsure of the “exact exchange of gunfire that occurred” between the suspect and “several officers” who returned fire. He added that the suspect had “several guns and large amounts of ammunitions and shot at the police officers from multiple positions within the home,” including the “upper portion” and main floor of the residence.

Officers also took fire from outside the home, Evans said.

At least one of the officers was shot inside the home, he said, adding that officials were still “piecing together” whether the two other officers were shot inside or outside.

The alleged shooter was reported dead around 8 a.m., and the other family members safely left the home later in the morning, the city statement said.

There had been no prior calls for service at the home or regarding the suspected shooter, Evans said.

He asked for patience while the department investigates the incident and noted the investigation was at its initial stages.

“We’re hurting as a team and as a family, particularly for those individuals who have chosen our police and our fire departments as a career to serve this community and to live out day to day what is one of the most important things here in Burnsville, and that’s keeping our community safe,” Burnsville City Manager Gregg Lindberg said at the press conference.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement that she was “devastated” by the news that two police officers and a first responder were “killed in the line of duty.” She added in a post on social media site X that she attended a vigil Sunday night in their honor.

“Our police officers and first responders put their lives on the line to keep all of us safe. We will never forget their sacrifice. My heart goes out to the loved ones of the victims and to the Burnsville community,” Klobuchar said.  

Both the city of Golden Valley, located 20 miles north of Burnsville, and the West St. Paul police departments offered condolences on social media.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara released a statement calling Sunday a “tragic and heartbreaking day” and offering his condolences “to the loved ones of the police officers and paramedic who were killed, and to the families of every Burnsville first responder.”

“The two officers and the paramedic paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “On a day like today, I ask that we remember that our first responders are the real heroes among us.”

Jim Nash, a Minnesota state representative, also posted to social media about the shooting.

“My heart is heavy for the families of these officers, the community of Burnsville, and for our country because this headline is not unique,” Nash wrote.

A group of state legislators — including state Sen. Jim Carlson, state Sen. Lindsey Port, state Rep. Kaela Berg, state Rep. Jessica Hanson and state Rep. Liz Reyer — released a statement Sunday afternoon, saying, “Our hearts ache for the first responders who died in the line of duty this morning,” and calling the deceased “beloved community members, neighbors, and friends.”

“We stand in support of the children and family of those involved in the domestic abuse call and this traumatic incident,” the statement continued. The state lawmakers noted that “these are some of the most dangerous calls that our officers respond to” and that they plan to work with law enforcement and survivors to make them safer for everyone.

“Burnsville is a place where we take care of each other, lean on our neighbors in times of need, and act together to make our city the best it can be,” the lawmakers said.

Incorporated in 1964, Burnsville is a suburb located south of both Minneapolis and St. Paul. According to the city’s website, it’s the ninth largest suburb in the metro area, with more than 64,000 residents.





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