Wife of Burnsville, Minnesota police officer killed in shooting reveals moment she 'knew he was gone'

Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita says Paul Elmstrand was ‘most generous, loving, patient person’

The wife of one of the Burnsville, Minnesota, police officers who was shot and killed over the weekend while responding to a domestic situation is now speaking out about the "hero" her husband was.

Burnsville Police Officer Paul Elmstrand died Sunday alongside fellow officer Matthew Ruge and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth in the incident that unfolded just outside of Minneapolis. Officials say the first responders were fired at by a gunman who barricaded himself inside a house with his family in the early morning before being found dead hours later. 

Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita said she woke up around 7:30 a.m. Sunday and had received a text message from a friend expressing remorse for what she was going through, according to CBS News. 

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


Paul Elmstrand

Burnsville Police Officer Paul Elmstrand, 27, died Sunday, Feb. 18 while responding to a domestic situation call involving a gunman who had barricaded himself inside a home. (City of Burnsville)

Cindy and Paul were high school sweethearts, and the couple, who have been married for five years, have a 2-year-old child and a 5-month-old, CBS News reported. 

"He was the most generous, loving, patient person I've ever known," Elmstrand-Castruita 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." 

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

Drew Evans, superintendent at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said Sunday there were seven children barricaded in the home at the time of the shooting who ranged in age from 2 to 15. Police first responded to the property before 2 a.m., and all the children made it out safe after 8 a.m. 


Burnsville police response

A police vehicle with what appears to be bullet pockmarks is towed near the scene where two police officers and a first responder were shot and killed on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Burnsville, Minnesota. (AP/Abbie Parr)

"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," Elmstrand-Castruita was quoted by CBS News as saying. 

Evans said Finseth was providing aid to an injured officer at the scene when he was shot, according to The Associated Press.  

Evans said the suspect had several guns and large amounts of ammunition, and shot at the police officers from multiple positions within the home, including the upper and lower floors. Evans said at least one officer was shot inside the home. 

Burnsville shooting vigil

People attend a candlelight vigil in Burnsville on Sunday night following the shooting in the city outside Minneapolis earlier that day. (AP/Abbie Parr)

The identity of the suspect has not been announced and the motive for the shooting is unclear. The Burnsville Police Department did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 

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