Hundreds gather for vigil after 2 police officers, paramedic killed in Burnsville

Flags at half-staff across Minnesota; investigation into shooting continues

People around a vigil outside a city hall
People lay flowers and candles on a police cruiser at a vigil outside of Burnsville City Hall on Sunday night. The vigil followed a shooting that left two Burnsville police officers and a firefighter-paramedic dead earlier in the day.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Flags are flying at half staff across Minnesota on Monday as the investigation continues into Sunday’s shooting in Burnsville that left two police officers and a firefighter-paramedic dead.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday evening for a vigil outside Burnsville City Hall, to honor officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, and firefighter Adam Finseth.

People stand and hold candles
A woman wipes away a tear as people gather a vigil outside of Burnsville City Hall.
Tim Evans for MPR News

“My heart just broke. There are no words. What do you say? I mean, we’ve said it so many times — our heart and our prayers and our sorrows go out to these people, and it’s just devastating,” said Jessica Gerardy, who lives in Apple Valley and attended the vigil to show her support.

Terese Trekell also attended the vigil. She’s been a teacher at Gideon Pond Elementary in Burnsville for 22 years, and noted how children in the community will have heard about the shooting.

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Burnsville officers and firefighters
Burnsville officer Paul Elmstrand (left), firefighter Adam Finseth (center) and officer Matthew Ruge (right) were shot and killed early Sunday morning in Burnsville as they responded to a call for help involving an "armed, barricaded man."
City of Burnsville

“We’ll have the responsibility to teach and try to help them make some sense of what has happened, when we ourselves can’t find any sense in it,” she said.

The gunfire Sunday morning also injured another officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott. It happened while officers responded to a call for help about a man armed and barricaded in a home with seven children inside.

Officials said Sunday that the shooter is dead, and that there was no ongoing threat. They didn’t say how he died. The man’s name is expected to be disclosed following an autopsy planned for Monday. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.

The children in the home, ages 2 to 15, were not physically harmed.

Burnsville city officials on Sunday spoke of the men who died as heroes dedicated to their communities and to keeping people safe.

People in a crowd at night
Mourners gather around a fire department vehicle at a vigil outside of Burnsville City Hall.
Tim Evans for MPR News

“Our police officers and our fire-paramedics — they come to work every day. They do it willingly. They know 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,” Tanya Schwartz, Burnsville’s police chief, told reporters at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

The city of Burnsville said plans are still in the works for an official fundraising effort to support the families of the fallen first responders.

Officials cautioned the public Sunday night that “some people are taking advantage of our tragedy in Burnsville. Be aware of scams.” They said information on official, legitimate fundraisers will be shared later this week on the city’s website.

MPR News reporters Sarah Thamer, Peter Cox, Cari Spencer, Nicole Ki and Matt Sepic contributed to this report.