Minnesota shooting: Wife of killed police officer says ‘he had to do what was right’

Paul Elmstrand with his wife Cindy and two-year-old daughter
Image caption,Paul Elmstrand with his wife Cindy and two-year-old daughter

By James FitzGerald

BBC News

The widow of one of the police officers killed in a shooting in Minnesota has said he was “the most generous, loving, patient person I’ve ever known”.

Paul Elmstrand, 27, was shot dead at a home in Burnsville on Sunday, alongside another officer and a paramedic.

The gunman had barricaded himself inside with seven children and opened fire as police tried to negotiate.

One other officer and a paramedic died in the incident, which followed a domestic abuse call in the early hours.

Mr Elmstrand’s wife, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita, told the BBC’s US partner CBS: “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 at risk and it breaks my heart because now he’s gone.


“But I know that he thought what he did was right.”

She said her husband – who was father to a five-month-old baby and two-year-old – “would drop everything to help someone who was in need, whether it be family, friend or someone on the street”.

“He could have a conversation with anyone and make them feel seen,” she said.

As well as Mr Elmstrand, police officer Matthew

Ruge, also 27, and paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, were also killed in the shooting.

A composite image with portrait photos of Paul Elmstrand, Adam Finseth and Matthew Ruge
Image caption,Police officers Paul Elmstrand (L) and Matthew Ruge (R) were shot dead, along with paramedic Adam Finseth (C)

State authorities said officers were called at about 01:50 local time (07:50 GMT) to the address in Burnsville, a city about 15 miles (24 km) south of central Minneapolis.

They were responding to a “report of a domestic situation” involving an armed man, said Supt Drew Evans from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The responders later learned seven children, aged two to 15, were also “barricaded” in the property. They went on to spend “quite a bit of time negotiating with this individual”.

The attacker then opened fire, killing the three victims and inflicting non-life-threatening injuries on a fourth policeman, who was named as Adam Medlicott.

Details of exactly what happened next are not yet clear, though Supt Evans confirmed that the police “did return fire”. Local media said the gunman killed himself.

He is said by Supt Evans to have had “several guns and large amounts of ammunition”, and shot at the first responders from different parts of the home.

He has not yet been named. He was found dead at about 08:00, which left other inhabitants of the home able to escape unharmed.

Ms Elmstrand-Castruita told CBS she learnt about her husband’s death on Sunday morning, after waking up and seeing a text from her friend saying that she was sorry what she was going through.

“I looked out my bedroom window and saw a squad car out there,” she said. “I knew. That’s when I knew he was gone.”

Neighbours on the quiet residential street described their fear as the incident escalated. Jason Skog recalled seeing a large police and Swat presence in his neighbourhood.

Describing the sound of explosions and gunfire, he said it quickly became clear that “something bad was taking place”.

An investigation is under way into what happened, while tributes have been paid by emergency workers in the local area and beyond. A candlelit vigil was held for the victims on Sunday night.

Burnsville police chief Tanya Schwartz said her whole force was “hurting”, while Minnesota Governor Tim Walz described it as a “tragic loss for our state”.

The incident came just days after another mass shooting in another Midwestern state, during which one person was killed and 21 injured in Missouri.

The victims were among a crowd who had been watching a victory parade by the Kansas City Chiefs after the NFL team won the Super Bowl earlier this month.https://blejermot.com/

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