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Friend of fallen Burnsville police officer Paul Elmstrand seeks to honor his legacy

Friend seeks to honor the legacy of fallen Burnsville police officer Paul Elmstrand
Friend seeks to honor the legacy of fallen Burnsville police officer Paul Elmstrand 02:25

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — We're learning more about one of the three Burnsville first responders who died Sunday in the line of duty.

Tuesday afternoon, families and fellow first responders lined a route through the southwest metro for officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge. 

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

They were working alongside firefighter and parademic Adam Finseth, who also died. Sgt. Adam Medlicott was also shot but survived.

WCCO spoke Tuesday with Luke Lavelle, one of Elmstrand's close friends.

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

The two met eight years ago at church in Medina. He says Elmstrand's favorite song was Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."

"Such a loss to the world and it doesn't seem fair. It's cliché but it's the best ones that go too early," Lavelle said.  

Paul Elmstrand Luke Lavelle

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

He says when someone met Elmstrand, they also met his wife, Cindy. Lavelle calls their marriage a "storybook romance."

"They've known each other as long as they can remember," he said. "Seeing only one of them was like thunder without lightning. I mean it's like, they were just one unit."

A unit that got bigger with the birth of their two children. Lavelle said that greatly affected Elmstrand's work in law enforcement.

RELATED: Procession for Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge held Tuesday

"Especially in this culture right now there's a lot of animosity toward police, and he'd talk about that a little bit, too, but it's like he never really took a side. He just always talked about like, 'I'll be the example of what people want to be for change,'" he said. "You could tell he understood the frustrations and you could tell he understood what he could do to make a difference."

With Elmstrand's death, Lavelle knows it's up to friends and family to continue making that difference, and keeping his friend's memory alive forever.

"I don't think there's enough positive male leadership and role models for kids right now, and he was like that hero that they could all look up to," he said. "If I could have a fraction of that kind of energy in my job, it would honor his legacy."

RELATED: Man who killed 3 Minnesota first responders identified as Shannon Gooden

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