AP U.S.

Investigators: Man who killed 3 Minnesota responders opened fire without warning, inside his house

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The man who killed two Minnesota police officers and a firefighter-paramedic opened fire on officers without warning while they were inside his house, after they had been negotiating with him for around 3 1/2 hours, investigators revealed Thursday.

Officers inside the home in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville returned fire and wounded the man before making it outside. The firefighter was shot while aiding the wounded officers, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement. In all, the man fired more than 100 rounds at police and first responders, the agency said.

Police were dispatched to the home for what investigators have described as a domestic incident around 1:50 a.m. Sunday. The arriving officers spoke with Shannon Gooden, 38, who refused to leave the home but said he was unarmed and that he had children inside, the BCA said in its first detailed update on the case since Sunday.

“The officers entered the home and negotiated with Gooden for about three and a half hours in an effort to get him to surrender peacefully,” the BCA statement said. “At about 5:26 a.m., Gooden opened fire on the officers inside the home without warning.”

Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and Sgt. Adam Medlicott, 38, are believed to have been first shot inside the home, the BCA said. Medlicott and another officer, who was not injured, returned fire from inside the home, wounding Gooden in the leg, the statement said.

“Both Ruge and Medlicott were shot a second time as officers were moving from the home to an armored vehicle in the driveway,” the statement said. Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic who was assigned to the city’s SWAT team, was shot while trying to aid the officers.

Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth were pronounced dead at a hospital. Medlicott survived and is recovering at home.

“Gooden continued to fire shots out of the home at officers and the armored vehicle that had personnel inside,” the BCA said.

At one point, while Gooden was shooting out of an upstairs window, another officer returned fire with his sniper rifle. The standoff ended when Gooden killed himself.

“The SWAT team found his body when they cleared the house at 10:15 a.m.,” the statement said.

Crime scene personnel recovered “several firearms and a large amount of ammunition” at the scene, as well as “numerous” cartridge casings, it said.

According to a transcript of the initial 911 call, obtained by local media outlets, the caller asked for police to come “right now.” The person said “my husband is” but the next words were redacted. Then the caller said, “Help me,” before cursing and screaming from someone followed. The call then ended abruptly. The dispatcher tried to call back four times without success.

A search warrant application released Wednesday, which was filed by a BCA agent, said the 911 call was “regarding an alleged sexual assault allegation,” without elaborating. The Thursday update provided no details about the call.

The search warrant application said police using a drone found Gooden dead in the bedroom. The medical examiner confirmed he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The BCA filed for the warrant to search the phone of Gooden’s ex-girlfriend, Noemi Torres, the mother of three of the seven children who were inside home but were unharmed by the gunfire. The agent wanted access to text messages between Torres and Gooden’s current girlfriend that they exchanged during and after the incident.

The agent, who took Torres’ phone into evidence, also wanted to see messages between Gooden and Torres from last week, which Torres told the agent was the last time they communicated, as well as any other communications, photos or other information on the phone that could be useful to the investigation.

Court records show Gooden wasn’t legally allowed to have guns because of his criminal record and had been entangled in a yearslong dispute over the custody and financial support of his three oldest children. The children in the house were ages 2 to 15 years. Authorities have not said how he obtained the weapons.

Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, said that even with the new details, it’s too early to evaluate the police response, given the still-limited information that has been made public.

“There’s still not a lot of information there that would be needed, really, to sort of provide any kind of meaningful feedback as to the actual tactics and the things that were done there,” Eells said.

It’s still not clear, he said, whether the officers inside the house were among the first to arrive or if they were sent later to negotiate. And it’s still not clear when the SWAT team was called in, and why or when the armored vehicle arrived. He said it is also unclear how the presence of children inside affected decisions made at the scene.

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“Lots of questions, and really not enough information to provide any objective answers at this point,” said Eells, a retired Colorado Springs, Colorado, police commander who formerly led that department’s SWAT team.

Once the investigation is complete, the BCA said, it will forward its findings without a charging decision to the Dakota County prosecutor’s office without any charging recommendations.

A public memorial service for Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 28 at Grace Church in suburban Eden Prairie.

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