New details revealed in February shooting of three Burnsville first responders

Throughout the course of the negotiations, Gooden repeatedly reminded the officers he was near his children and officers should not shoot due to the risk to the children.

A squad car parked outside Burnsville city hall is barely visible underneath a pile of flowers. (Hayley Feland/Alpha News)

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office has determined that police use-of-force was justified in the February incident with Shannon Gooden that resulted in the death of three Burnsville, Minn., first responders.

County attorney Kathleen Keena also provided new details in a press release Tuesday about the circumstances surrounding the initial police response to Gooden’s residence and what transpired during the hours-long standoff.

On Feb. 18, 2024, Burnsville Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, and Burnsville Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth were killed in the line of duty while responding to an incident at a residence in Burnsville. Additionally, Sgt. Adam Medlicott of the Burnsville Police Department sustained a gunshot wound to his arm. During the event, Burnsville Police Officers Javier Jimenez and Daniel Wical, and Sgt. Medlicott discharged their firearms which constitutes a use of “deadly force” under Minnesota statute, which is required to be investigated, Keena explained.

The following is a summary of events provided in the press release:

Two officers were initially dispatched at about 1:50 a.m. to the residence on the 12600 block of 33rd Avenue South on a report of a domestic disturbance in progress. The house was rented by Gooden, who lived there with his girlfriend Ashley Dyrdahl and seven children ranging in age from 5 to 15.

Dyrdahl had called 911 and screamed, “Help me.” The call was abruptly disconnected by Gooden. Multiple attempts by dispatch to call back were unsuccessful.

Officers arrived and made contact with Dyrdahl who said she suspected Gooden was sexually abusing one of the minor children and had suspected the conduct for about two weeks. Dyrdahl had Gooden’s phone which contained text messages of a sexual nature between Gooden and the child and indicated that a sex act had just taken place between the two. Dyrdahl also advised police that Gooden had access to several guns in the home and had previously threatened to “take everyone out with him.”

More officers arrived at the incident, and at least three entered the attached garage of the home where one called out to Gooden announcing he was under arrest. Gooden was instructed to exit the residence with nothing in his hands. Gooden acknowledged the presence of the officer who was giving commands but did not acknowledge the instructions and did not exit the residence.

A memorial to the three fallen first responders outside Burnsville City Hall in February. (Hayley Feland/Alpha News)

Police continued to convey concern for the safety of the children in the home and instructed Gooden to send the children out of the home. Gooden again failed to comply, and officers announced they were entering the home; Gooden told them not to.

Officers entered the home with ballistic shields and guns drawn, and they determined Gooden was on the upper level. One of the children moved from a doorway to the hallway and then back. Due to the presence of the child, officers began negotiations with Gooden rather than advancing further into the house to apprehend Gooden.

Officers Peter Mueller and Ruge, who were inside the home, were members of the Burnsville Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team. Negotiations began at approximately 2 a.m., and Officer Ruge assumed the role of primary negotiator.

Throughout the course of the negotiations, Gooden repeatedly reminded the officers he was near his children and officers should not shoot due to the risk to the children. When asked, Gooden denied he possessed or had access to any firearms. At one point, Officer Alex Wurst indicated he believed Gooden was holding a firearm but was uncertain due to darkness and shadows on the upper level landing. Officer Ruge addressed this concern with Gooden who reiterated he was unarmed.

Gooden told the officers that the negotiations would go on for hours because he believed he would be incarcerated and wanted to spend time with his children. Gooden also said he believed police would shoot him “like other unarmed black men.”

Gooden repeatedly inquired about how many officers were present, what they were doing, and the tools they deployed to the scene. Officer Ruge repeatedly gave Gooden instructions for safely resolving the situation, but Gooden did not comply with the repeated instructions to surrender.

Officers switched in and out of the house during the course of events, including Sgt. Medlicott who was replaced by Officer Elmstrand just before 3 a.m.

About 3:46 a.m., a specialized team, Burnsville’s Emergency Action Group, was deployed to the scene, which consisted of Burnsville police officers and two Burnsville Fire Department paramedics skilled in tactics and equipped with weapons and gear beyond that issued to individual patrol officers. One of the fire medics was Adam Finseth, the other was Justin Gibbish.

After 4 a.m., South Metro SWAT was requested to the incident address with a Bearcat armored vehicle. When the Bearcat arrived, just before 5 a.m., it was staged out of view so as not to escalate Gooden.

After command leaders discussed the negotiation plan, one of the detectives entered the residence to relay the plan to Officer Ruge when Gooden fired multiple gun shots from the upper level hallway toward the officers present in the residence. At the time, the following Burnsville police officers were present inside the house: Elmstrand, Cody Johnson, Medlicott, Ruge, Daniel Wical, and Wurst. Gooden fired the shots at about 5:25 a.m.

Sgt. Medlicott was shot in the arm and fell to the floor where he tried to protect himself with a ballistic shield over his head. He looked behind him and saw Officer Elmstrand down and bleeding badly from his head, and he knew they had to evacuate him.

Officer Paul Elmstrand (left), Officer Matthew Ruge (center), and Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth (right)

As other officers evacuated Officer Elmstrand, Sgt. Medlicott maintained his position on the floor to provide protection for the evacuating officers. Medlicott discharged his pistol approximately five times up the stairway toward where he believed Gooden was shooting from. Sgt. Medlicott evacuated from the residence when he believed Gooden was reloading. He ran to the Bearcat which was then located in the driveway of the residence. At this point, Officers Wical and Johnson were the only remaining officers in the house.

The volley of shots fired by Gooden caused debris from sheetrock, wooden building materials and insulation to fill the air. When Gooden started shooting, Officers Wical and Johnson dropped to the floor. Officer Wical was armed with a rifle and moved to the left side exit of the kitchen. He positioned his rifle up the stairs towards the room he believed Gooden was in. Officer Wical heard the sounds of magazines being loaded into firearms by Gooden and actions being manipulated. Officer Wical believed Gooden was preparing to re-engage officers with more gunfire, thereby placing his life, the lives of officers, the children and the general public at risk.

Officer Wical also heard officers attempting to drag Officer Elmstrand out of the house and feared if Gooden returned to the top of the stairs, the evacuating officers would be unable to protect themselves. While holding his position, Officer Wical observed Gooden’s legs at the top of the stairs from the knees down and further observed what he believed to be the barrel of the long gun in Gooden’s hand. Fearing for his safety and those of the retreating officers, Officer Wical fired multiple rounds at the person’s legs. He heard what sounded like a male grunting as if he’d been shot.

After it was reported that gunshots were fired inside the house, the Bearcat moved and positioned in the driveway of the residence. When the Bearcat arrived in the driveway, the occupants of the vehicle could hear gunfire. Firefighter/Paramedic Gibbish exited the vehicle and ran to the rear of the Bearcat. Officer Elmstrand was brought to the Bearcat and Firefighter/Paramedic Finseth started providing him with medical care. Gibbish called for an ambulance. While doing so, Officer Ruge approached Gibbish and told him he’d been shot. Gibbish and another officer checked Officer Ruge for injuries and determined a bullet had hit his vest because they didn’t observe an entrance wound. After checking Officer Ruge, Gibbish turned to check on Officer Elmstrand. As he did so, Gooden started firing shots at the Bearcat out a window from an upper level room in the house at 5:31 a.m., based on body-worn camera video. During this initial barrage of fire, both Officer Ruge and Firefighter/Paramedic Finseth were shot.

Gooden opened fire on the first responders with “what is believed to be multiple different firearms.”

Gooden continued to fire on officers from varying upper level rooms in the house. The shooting spanned over a time period of approximately 13 minutes. During that time, officers deployed several distraction devices in an attempt to distract Gooden while the injured were loaded into the Bearcat and driven to awaiting ambulances. After being loaded into the ambulances, the injured were transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center.

While Gooden was shooting at officers, Officer Jimenez took cover behind a patrol vehicle at the southwest corner of 33rd Avenue and Burnsville Parkway with his sniper rifle. While positioned there, he observed flashes of gunfire coming from the top left window of the house. He placed his sniper rifle on the top of the rear of the patrol vehicle and scanned the upper windows of the house. Moments later he observed through his sniper rifle scope an individual (i.e., Gooden) leaning slightly out of the top left window with what appeared to be a rifle. Gooden began shooting rounds in high succession at the officers in the driveway as they attempted to take cover behind the Bearcat. According to Officer Jimenez, he feared for the safety of the officers and medics positioned on the driveway, as well as citizens in the nearby residences, so he fired one round at Gooden. After firing the round, Officer Jimenez observed Gooden retract back into the room. Thereafter he did not observe or hear any more gunfire being directed at officers.

Officer Jimenez subsequently repositioned inside a second-floor bedroom of a house located across the street in order to obtain a clear view of the front of Gooden’s residence. He continued to scan the windows of Gooden’s residence and provided updates. After a period of time, Officer Jimenez heard a single gunshot come from Gooden’s residence but was unable to locate where the gunshot originated from. A short time later, about 6:54 a.m., a 911 call was received by dispatch from one of the children in the home reporting Gooden had shot himself in the head.

The children were instructed to get dressed and exit the house. All seven children safely exited the residence at 7 a.m.


The autopsies revealed that Officer Elmstrand suffered four gunshot wounds to the head, pelvis and leg. Officer Ruge suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and a graze wound to the arm. Firefighter/Paramedic Finseth suffered a gunshot to his arm and torso that exited his back. Their deaths were all determined to be homicides.

Gooden had a gunshot wound to the thigh and a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His manner of death was determined to be suicide.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension removed several guns from the home and submitted them for forensic testing and matched them to the numerous recovered rounds that were fired around the home and which caused the deaths and injuries to the first responders.

Keena’s statement read:

“Almost five months ago, Burnsville Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and Burnsville Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth were murdered when responding to a domestic situation in Burnsville. All three men embodied the spirit of a public servant as they selflessly acted to protect seven children from the hands of Shannon Gooden.
During this incident, three officers from the Burnsville Police Department discharged their firearms. Because this constitutes the use of deadly force under Minn. Stat. §609.066, an investigation into the facts and circumstances of their use of force was required.
The independent Use-of-Force Investigations Unit of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) — the lead investigative agency — recently submitted its investigation to my office for a determination whether the officers were legally justified in discharging their respective firearms.
After my review of the investigation, there is absolutely no doubt the officers were justified in using deadly force to protect themselves, other officers and first responders, and members of the public from death or great bodily harm.”

In March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office federally charged Dyrdahl, 35, with making straw purchases and supplying the guns to Gooden that he used in the murders. Dyrdahl was allowed to remain out of custody while awaiting court proceedings.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.