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Burnsville warns of crowdfunding scams involving slain first responders

Wife says slain Burnsville officer Paul Elmstrand "loved his job"
Wife says slain Burnsville officer Paul Elmstrand "loved his job" 01:25

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Criminals are already working hard to profit off Sunday's tragedy in Burnsville, according to city officials.

A warning was posted to the city's website Sunday evening, about 12 hours after a standoff in a residential neighborhood ended with the deaths of three first responders.

"Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of our tragedy in Burnsville. Be aware of scams," wrote city officials.

The city says it will soon post links to official donation sites and provide more information on how to help the victims' families.

RELATED: How to help the families of Burnsville police officers and paramedic killed in shooting

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says many crowdfunding websites don't do enough vetting, leaving donors vulnerable.

"Be aware that people with good intentions but with no experience in managing charitable donations are on crowdfunding sites," reads an excerpt from BBB's website. "Additionally, there are scammers seeking to take advantage of high public sympathy by setting up crowdfunding projects that may have no official connection to any charitable organization and may be using names and photos of victims without the families' permission."  

RELATED: Burnsville shooting suspect identified as Shannon Gooden

Burnsville police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, and paramedic Adam Finseth. (left to right)  City of Burnsville

RELATED: Wife of fallen Burnsville police officer Paul Elmstrand: "He had to do what he thought was right"

BBB says GoFundMe, the largest crowdfunding website, is accredited by the agency, and it guarantees any misused donations will be refunded.

Donors are urged to first contact the GoFundMe's organizer by clicking the envelope by their name. Donors can also contact to investigate an organizer, and click "Report Campaign" if they suspect deceit. Donors can also click here to report scams to the BBB.

Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth were fatally shot Sunday morning, and the suspect also died, according to city officials. BPD Sgt. Adam Medlicott was also shot and is expected to survive.

RELATED: Who were the officers and paramedic fatally shot in Burnsville?

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation and says the suspect, 38-year-old Shannon Gooden, "had several guns and large amounts of ammunition." Gooden had barricaded himself in the home with several family members inside, including seven children between the ages of 2 and 15. All family members made it out of the home safely.

Burnsville Fire Chief B.J. Jungmann said Sunday was the toughest day the city has ever experienced.

"It's a tragic day, we're all grieving, and we're all trying to understand what happened and why," Jungmann said.

Sunday's shooting marked the ninth time in eight months that first responders have been killed or hurt by gunfire in Minnesota and surrounding communities.

RELATED: Memorial grows in Burnsville for first responders killed during standoff with gunman

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