Transcript: Dispatcher Aided Kids after Minn. Police Officers, Medic Killed

March 7, 2024
A 911 dispatcher instructed children how to exit a home after a gunman killed two Burnsville police officers and a firefighter/paramedic before killing himself.

A 911 transcript released Wednesday offers the most detailed account yet of what the children inside a Burnsville home were going through in the moments after a gunman killed two police officers and a firefighter/paramedic before taking his own life.

The transcript released by the city of Burnsville begins with one of the children telling a dispatcher that "There was a big shootout here and my dad's down. ... He shot himself in the head" and continued with the children being given clear instruction on how to exit the home before their eventual entry into two armored police vehicles, where a medic checked their vital signs.

Shannon Cortez Gooden shot Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, during an hourslong overnight standoff on Feb. 18 at the gunman's home in the 12600 block of S. 33rd Avenue. Gooden, 38, later fatally shot himself while still in the house.


The children in the home ranged in age from 2 to 15, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The agency said the children got out of the home unharmed, however, the transcript revealed that one of them was cut by flying glass after Gooden shot out a window.

The standoff began shortly after a call to dispatch about 1:50 a.m. on a report of an alleged sexual assault. Gunfire that killed Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth erupted about 5:30 a.m.

It was about 6:55 a.m. when one of the children connected with dispatch and said Gooden had killed himself.

The transcript includes the back-and-forth among a dispatcher, an officer, a medic and one of the children:

"There was a big shootout here and um, my dad's down," the child on the call said, adding, "And my mom left and my dad is down. And it's just ... me and my siblings here."

The child relayed that Gooden was shot in the leg during the initial gunfire, then he shot himself in the head.

The dispatcher then turned the conversation to counseling the child on how to go about getting out of the home, saying, "OK, exit through the front door."

The child on the phone apparently turned her attention to the others and said, "Be sure you all get dressed. We need to go outside."

Dispatch was told there were seven children in the home and one of them was cut on the arm.

The dispatcher said, "and when you guys are walking out the front door, the police officers are going to be telling you what to do. ... I want you to listen to the officers ... and do exactly as they say. ... I will stay on the line with you, OK? Let me know when you are walking out."

After a moment or two, the dispatcher said the officers are "going to be calling you to them. I want you to listen to what they're saying and do what they tell you guys, OK?"

The dispatcher explained that the officers are "going to put you into cars right away that are really warm as well, OK?" The dispatcher asked about the cut on one child's arm and was told "it was bleeding a little, but it stopped."

As the children come out, an officer counted until he said, "seven, keep coming."

The transcript shifted to an officer speaking with one of the children to confirm that only a mortally wounded Gooden was in the home.

Soon afterward, all seven were in one armored vehicle and driven to where medics were stationed.

An officer addressed all seven, saying, "We'll just take care of that arm" before explaining they will be checked out medically.

While one child's oxygen level was being measured, the youngster said, "I thought that was like a game." An officer replied, "It kind of looks like a game, see."

During another check of one child's vital sign, a medic said, "There's a little red button, isn't there? ... You're doing a great job."

A medic shifted the conversation away from the moment and asked one child, "Do you go to school?" and followed with asking whether anyone was hungry and wanted water.

"We have [unintelligible] bars," the medic offered. "They don't sound or taste the best, but if you're hungry, I can grab one for you."

The dispatcher came back on at the end of the call to check on the children, the officers and the medics, ensuring that they were OK.

"Yes, I am," one medic replied. "Yeah, everything is OK."


©2024 StarTribune.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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