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Chaplains provide support for first responders after Burnsville shooting

Chaplains provide support for police, firefighters after Burnsville tragedy
Chaplains provide support for police, firefighters after Burnsville tragedy 01:51

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — It's tough to find the right words during a tragedy, but Burnsville first responders and community members are leaning on faith to stand strong.

Sunday, Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge and fire medic Adam Finseth were all shot during a standoff at a Burnsville home.

Hundreds of first responders stood in salute and community members held flags for the fallen heroes.

But, when a tragedy like this happens, the survivors need someone to talk to.

That's where a team of six Burnsville police and fire chaplains, including John Matthews, step up.

"Most of our days are spent here (police department and fire stations) being with them," he said.

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

Their presences began at the Hennepin County Medical Center and have continued throughout the days, even leading a prayer at a community vigil in Burnsville on Sunday.

"Everything from being afraid, to being sad to being anxious," said Matthews. Those are the raw emotions officers and fire medics are dealing with.

Matthews says chaplains don't really have a set duty, but show up as a symbol of faith during a time where it feels like there is no god.

From leading officers in prayer to saying nothing, sometimes the silence is key.

Matthews wants people to know he's there to be present, listen and offer support in the days to come.

"Part of a chaplain's role is to help them open up enough to share what they're experiencing," Matthews said.

Burnsville police and fire chaplains will continue to support first responders while also helping coordinate the public funeral for the fallen heroes next week.

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