Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Transcript: 911 caller asking police 'Help me,' then screams, preceded deadly standoff in Minnesota

A deadly standoff in Minnesota started with a 911 call in which the caller said “Help me.”

Steve Karnowski
Thursday 22 February 2024 19:35 GMT

A deadly standoff in Minnesota started with a 911 call in which the caller said “Help me.” There was screaming, and the call cut off. The dispatcher tried to call back three times, but no one answered, according to a 911 transcript.

The incident led to the deaths of two police officers and a firefighter-paramedic who responded to the call early Sunday in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville. The standoff ended with the suspect killing himself and seven children being escorted from his home.

The 911 transcript obtained by local media outlets and search warrant documents released Wednesday revealed new details about what happened.

The transcript shows that the caller asked at 1:50 a.m. Sunday for police to come “right now.” She 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 three times without success.

Officials with Burnsville police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension did not immediately respond Thursday to phone messages and emails seeking details. But the search warrant application, filed by a BCA agent, said the initial 911 call was “regarding an alleged sexual assault allegation," without elaborating.

The fallen first responders were Burnsville Police Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic who was assigned to the city’s SWAT team. A third officer, Sgt. Adam Medlicott, was wounded and is recovering at home.

The documents fill in gaps in the narrative that BCA Superintendent Drew Evans gave at a news conference Sunday. Because the case is still under investigation, the bureau hasn’t released more than broad outlines of what transpired, although it has said it plans to issue a news release with an update late this week.

The warrant application said officers arrived at the home and made contact with the caller and the suspect, Shannon Gooden, 38.

“At one point during the incident, GOODEN retreated into a bedroom and barricaded himself. Officers negotiated for GOODEN to surrender, but he did not cooperate,” the document said. “Sometime later, GOODEN opened fire at officers with what is believed to be multiple different firearms, fatally wounding two Burnsville Police Officers and a Firefighter (Medic). Officers returned fire at GOODEN and he retreated into a bedroom.”

Police using a drone later found Gooden dead in the bedroom from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the agent wrote. The medical examiner later confirmed that as the cause of death.

The BCA filed for the warrant to get permission 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 whether they have determined how he obtained the weapons. Evans declined to say Sunday what kind of guns Gooden had, except that investigators found “several guns and large amounts of ammunition."

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

The timeline isn’t clear, he said. Among other things, he notes, it’s not clear when the SWAT team arrived, whether the responders who were killed were sent as part of the SWAT team or in their capacity as patrol officers, and what kind of information the officers had at the time.

“There’s a lot of gaps. There’s a lot of information that would be needed to have an informed opinion about the appropriateness of certain actions,” said Eells, a retired Colorado Springs, Colorado, police commander who formerly led that department’s SWAT team.

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.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in