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Matt Ruge's hometown of Wabasha remembers, honors officer killed in Burnsville standoff

Matt Ruge's hometown of Wabasha honors officer killed in Burnsville standoff
Matt Ruge's hometown of Wabasha honors officer killed in Burnsville standoff 04:17

WABASHA, Minn. — Matt Ruge grew up in Wabasha, the river city two hours south of the Twin Cities with only 2,500 people in it. In a small town like this one, word traveled fast when one of their own was killed in the line of duty early Sunday morning.

Many who knew him reflected on their memories.

"During his last semester of high school, he did what was called like a teacher's aid position and he asked if he could do that with me," said Daniel Metcalf, an investigator with the Wabasha Police Department. 

Metcalf used to be a school resource officer for the Wabasha-Kellogg School District. Ruge shadowed him his senior year of high school to learn about the job of a SRO. Even back then, Metcalf knew Ruge had a what it took to do this difficult job.

"He had a very promising career that was taken way too short," said Metcalf.

READ MORE: Public funeral for 3 first responders killed in Burnsville to be held Feb. 28

Brian Sylvester works for the Wabasha County Sheriff's Office and awarded Ruge a scholarship several years ago to attend the police academy.

"What he wanted to achieve, he certainly did, [and with] the ultimate sacrifice. It's very unfortunate," said Sylvester.

Ruge graduated from Wabasha-Kellogg High School in 2015. He was a member of the golf team and trap team, and even after graduating nine years ago, he was still friends with the people he met there.

"He was really loyal. He was always one of those friends where if anything was wrong, you knew you could call Matt," said Ty Gaedtke, one of Ruge's high school friends, whom he was still close with. 

"This weekend here is Grumpy Old Men Fest in Wabasha, and [Matt] was coming down to my place to stay over," said Gaedtke. 

Gaedtke says ever since they were kids, Ruge said he always wanted to be a police officer.

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

"He was always just very firm that that's what he wanted to do, and I feel like that was a way he felt like he could really make his impact on the world," said Gaedtke. 

While there may be some peace in knowing his friend died doing what he loved, he's still in shock that Ruge is gone.

"It's been tough," Gaedtke. "It's one of those things where you kind of want time to stop for a second."

The Wabasha-Kellogg Chamber of Commerce is holding a vigil to honor and remember Ruge on Wednesday night at Heritage Park. 

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