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2 officers, 1 firefighter killed in Minnesota during domestic call. What happened?

Click to play video: '2 officers, 1 firefighter killed in Minnesota shooting standoff'
2 officers, 1 firefighter killed in Minnesota shooting standoff
WATCH: 2 officers, 1 firefighter killed in Minnesota shooting standoff – Feb 19, 2024

Two police officers and a firefighter who responded to a domestic situation at a suburban Minneapolis home were killed early Sunday during a standoff by a heavily armed man who shot at police from the home where seven children were also inside.

The suspect is dead, and another police officer was injured in the shooting in a neighbourhood in Burnsville, Minnesota, a city of about 64,000 people near Minneapolis.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Investigators are still putting together details of the shooting, which unfolded from a domestic call.

The suspect, who authorities have not yet identified, was armed with multiple guns and large amounts of ammunition. He had barricaded himself inside the home with his family, who included seven children ages 2 to 15.

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said negotiations lasted for hours before the suspect opened fire. He wasn’t specific on the exact amount of time, but the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said the standoff lasted four hours before a SWAT team entered the home.

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The man shot at officers from multiple positions in the home, including the upper and lower floors, Evans said. At least one officer was shot inside. A police armored vehicle sustained bullet damage to its windshield.

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“We still don’t know the exact exchange of gunfire that occurred,” Evans said. “Certainly several officers did return fire.”

Around 8 a.m. Sunday, the suspect was found dead. The family and children were released. None of them were hurt.

Evans said “there have not been many calls for service at all” at the home in the past.

‘THEY ARE HEROES’

City officials identified the fallen officers as Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27. Firefighter and paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, who was shot while giving aid to an injured officer, also died.

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Elmstrand joined the police department in 2017, and was a member of its mobile command staff. His wife, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita, told WCCO-TV they began dating in high school after attending the same schools since kindergarten. They were married five years and had two children, a two-year-old and a five-month-old.

Elmstrand was a levelheaded person who loved his job and didn’t complain, despite horrible things he saw as part of his job, she said.

“I think he just had to be the hero. He had to do what he thought was right to protect those little lives even if it meant putting his (life) at risk and it breaks my heart because now he’s gone. But I know that he thought what he did was right,” she told the station.

Ruge, hired in 2020, was on the department’s crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer.

Another police officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was injured and being treated at a hospital with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening, the city said.

“We’re hurting,” said Police Chief Tanya Schwartz. “Today, three members of our team made the ultimate sacrifice for this community. They are heroes.”

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COMMUNITY, STATE MOURNS

Flags in Minnesota have been lowered to half-staff in honor of those killed. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz urged people walking past them to remember the fallen first responders.

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“Minnesota mourns with you,” he said. “The state stands ready to assist in any way possible.”

Hundreds of people, including officers from other departments, gathered Sunday night outside Burnsville City Hall for a candlelight vigil for the victims.

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig said, “I can’t imagine the pain that you’re all going through, but what I can say is that to all our officers out there, the paramedics, our firefighters, thank you for what you do.”

Area resident Kris Martin said, “It’s an important community, and we feel very saddened by what happened.”

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