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

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

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — The wife of Burnsville police officer Paul Elmstrand — one of the three first responders killed over the weekend — said he would "drop everything" to help out someone in need.

Two Burnsville police officers and a paramedic were fatally shot Sunday morning after responding to a call of an armed man barricaded inside a home with family members, including seven children. A third police officer was wounded and is expected to survive. The suspect, identified by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Monday as 38-year-old Shannon Gooden, was later found dead. He died by suicide, according to the medical examiner.

The responders who were killed have since been identified by the City of Burnsville as police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth.

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

Elmstrand's wife, Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita, spoke about her husband with CBS News on Sunday evening. She said they went to the same schools since kindergarten and first started dating in high school. They've been married for five years and have two children, a 5-month-old and 2-year-old.

"He was the most generous, loving, patient person I've ever known," she said. "He could have a conversation with anyone and make them feel seen. He would drop everything to help someone who was in need, whether it be family, friend or someone on the street."

Elmstrand family

Elmstrand, 27, joined the Burnsville Police Department in 2017 and was promoted in 2019. Elmstrand-Castruita said she didn't worry about him at work.

"He was a very levelheaded person," she said. "He loved his job. He saw horrible things but never once did he say, would he come home complaining."

She said she got up at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday to a text from a friend saying sorry for what she was going through. At the time, she didn't know what they were talking about and thought it was a mistake.

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

"I looked out my bedroom window and saw a squad car out there," she said. "I knew. That's when I knew he was gone."

She said incidents that involved children, like the one Sunday, really "hit deep" for her husband, especially since they have two children of their own.

"I think he just had to be the hero. He had to do what he thought was right to protect those little lives even if it meant putting his at risk and it breaks my heart because now he's gone. But I know that he thought what he did was right," she said.

Elmstrand family

Lastly, Elmstrand-Castruita spoke on how she is getting through this loss.   

"I just keep thinking about how well he loved me and how well he loved our kids and just what a privilege it is to have experienced that, because I know that so many people don't. But me and my kids got to," she said.

Before Sunday, four officers in the United States had been killed by gunfire this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Now, there are six.

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

Suicide prevention and domestic violence resources

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

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