Woman indicted for buying guns used in fatal standoff that killed Burnsville first responders

a man speaks at a podium with four people behind him
Superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Drew Evans speaks at a press conference announcing the indictment of Ashley Dyrdahl in Minneapolis.
Estelle Tilmar-Wilcox | MPR News

A federal grand jury has indicted a Twin Cities woman for allegedly buying five guns for Shannon Gooden, the man who fatally shot three first responders in Burnsville in February before killing himself.

Gooden was ineligible to own firearms because of a felony conviction. But prosecutors say his girlfriend — 35-year-old Ashely Anne Dyrdahl — bought handguns and rifles for him.

MPR News Correspondent Matt Sepic joined MPR News Host Cathy Wurzer with the latest.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] CATHY WURZER: As we mentioned at the top of the show, we're following breaking news here on Minnesota Now. A federal grand jury has indicted a Twin Cities woman for allegedly buying five guns for Shannon Gooden. He was the man who fatally shot three first responders in Burnsville last month before killing himself.

Gooden was ineligible to own firearms because of a felony conviction, but prosecutors say his girlfriend, 35-year-old Ashley Ann Dyrdahl, bought handguns and rifles for him. A news conference just wrapped up in the last half hour. MPR News reporter Matt Sepic was there. He joins us right now. Well, Matt, what is Ashley Dyrdahl charged with specifically?

MATT SEPIC: Well, specifically, the charges are making false statements during the purchase of a firearm, straw purchasing, and conspiracy. Straw buying is when someone able to pass a criminal background check buys a gun for someone who's ineligible because of a felony on their record.

A law just passed in 2022 called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act actually better defines straw purchasing and increases the penalty to a maximum of 15 years in prison. As we had reported soon after the shooting, Cathy, Shannon Gooden was barred from possessing guns after pleading guilty to felony assault in 2008.

CATHY WURZER: How do prosecutors allege that Dyrdahl got the guns?

MATT SEPIC: According to the indictment, Dyrdahl bought the five firearms from two different federally licensed dealers between September and January. Four of the weapons were from The Modern Sportsman in Burnsville. One was from the Burnsville Pistol and Rifle Range. The weapons, Cathy, include three AR-15 lower receivers-- those are the federally regulated parts of that weapon-- as well as two nine millimeter pistols.

Dyrdahl allegedly signed forms attesting to the fact that she was buying the weapons for herself, but US Attorney Andy Luger at a news conference that just wrapped up said that Dyrdahl lied and knowingly bought the weapons for Gooden. Luger says Dyrdahl knew what she was doing, and he points to her text messages with Gooden as evidence of that.

ANDREW LUGER: One example of Dyrdahl's clear understanding that they were violating the law is described in paragraph 12 of the indictment. There, Dyrdahl warned Gooden in a text message about their illegal gun purchases and cautioned him to be careful about what they were doing.

MATT SEPIC: Now, John McConkey who owns The Modern Sportsman told MPR News in an email last month referencing one of the weapons that an out-of-state online retailer shipped one of the guns, an AR-15 lower receiver, to his store in Burnsville for transfer to a local buyer. McConkey said the person who passed the background check and picked up the weapon was not the alleged shooter.

And to be clear, Cathy, neither McConkey nor his store are accused of wrongdoing. In his email last month, McConkey said he and his employees had no way of knowing that this one weapon, in particular, the AR lower receiver, would end up with a convicted felon.

CATHY WURZER: Matt, do prosecutors think that the guns that Dyrdahl allegedly bought were used to shoot the first responders?

MATT SEPIC: Well, that wasn't clear initially soon after the incident. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said initially that its investigators recovered multiple guns from the home in Burnsville, and Gooden had fired more than 100 rifle rounds.

But US attorney Andy Luger confirmed today that Gooden used two of the AR-15s that Dyrdahl allegedly bought for him to attack the first responders. One of those guns had what's known as a binary trigger that allows the shooter to fire a round both by pulling the trigger and releasing it, effectively doubling the rate of fire.

CATHY WURZER: You mentioned this in your intro, but to just be specific. The crime that's in Gooden's past that made it illegal for him to buy guns, what was that exactly?

MATT SEPIC: It was a felony assault case. It happened in 2007. He pleaded guilty the following year. It involved a fight in a shopping center parking lot where he pulled out a seven inch knife. And four years ago, Gooden petitioned a court to have his firearms rights restored.

At the time, prosecutors argued that Gooden had quote, "demonstrated a continued disregard to obey the law as evidenced by numerous traffic and disorderly conduct convictions." They also pointed to an accusation of domestic violence that Dyrdahl made in a 2017 request for a protection order as well as a protection order that another partner filed in 2020.

But in fact, Dyrdahl wrote a letter to a Dakota County judge in 2019 urging her to restore Gooden's gun rights. Dakota County attorney Kathy Keena pointed this out at the news conference along with Luger today.

But in the end, Dakota County judge Dannia Edwards sided with prosecutors and denied Gooden's request to have his gun rights restored. That stopped him from legally purchasing firearms. But according to this indictment, Cathy, Gooden used his girlfriend to get around federal law.

CATHY WURZER: And by the way, final question here. Will Dyrdahl appear in court today?

MATT SEPIC: Yes. She is due to appear before a magistrate judge in St. Paul federal court at 3:00. And the US Attorney's office is not seeking pretrial detention for her, so she'll likely be able to walk out of court soon after she makes that initial appearance this afternoon.

CATHY WURZER: All right. I know you're busy. Thank you, Matt Sepic.

MATT SEPIC: You're welcome.

CATHY WURZER: That's MPR News reporter Matt Sepic.

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