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Suspect who fatally shot 2 officers, 1 first responder was not permitted to own firearm

Suspect who fatally shot 2 officers, 1 first responder was not permitted to own firearm

The man who fatally shot two Minnesota police officers and a first responder over the weekend was prohibited from owning a firearm and made an unsuccessful bid to overturn the lifelong state ban four years ago, court records show.

A medical examiner identified the slain shooter as Shannon Gooden, 38, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Monday.

He had several guns and large amounts of ammunition when he opened fire on law enforcement officers Sunday while barricaded inside a home with seven children in Burnsville, Minnesota, authorities said.

The children were between the ages of 2 and 15, according to Drew Evans, the superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

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 in Burnsville, Minn., on Sunday.Abbie Parr / AP

Evans said officers were attempting to negotiate with the suspect when he began shooting. He killed police officers Paul Elmstrand, 27, and Matthew Ruge, 27, as well as Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic, city officials said. 

They died of their gunshot injuries within 15 minutes of each other, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Another officer, Adam Medlicott, was shot at the scene and is expected to survive.

Gooden, of Burnsville, also died during the incident, the Department of Public Safety bureau spokesperson said. The medical examiner has not released his cause of death.

Gooden had been employed as a journeyman painter for over a decade at LaMettry’s Collision in Burnsville, the business said in a statement to NBC News. It extended its condolences to the first responders and their loved ones.

“We are shocked and saddened by the news of this horror and tragedy,” the statement said, adding that Elmstrand, Ruge and Finseth “risked everything and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Gooden was prohibited by state law from possessing firearms after he was convicted of second-degree assault in 2007, when he was 21. The incident in a mall parking lot involved a knife, according to Mathew K. Higbee, his attorney at the time.

In 2020, Higbee attempted to reverse what he called a “harsh” ban, arguing that there was “good cause to do so” because Gooden was “not a dangerous criminal” or a “potential risk to the community.”

In his plea, Higbee said Gooden took anger management classes while incarcerated and had provided for his longtime girlfriend, her two children and his five children.

“He has done everything he can to put himself back on his feet, move forward, and live the life of a productive and law-abiding member of society,” Higbee wrote.

The state statute allows a court to restore a banned person’s right to possess a firearm if there is “good cause” to do so and if that person is no longer behind bars.

A judge denied the motion to lift the ban in 2020, court records show. No explanation was provided in the order. 

In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Higbee said the judge had made the “right decision.”

“It’s comforting to see that the system worked,” he said. “I would feel horrible if he did get his firearms rights restored and a month, a year, later this happened.”

Higbee said that he was surprised to hear about the shooting and that he did not believe Gooden was capable of such violence in 2020, when he filed the motion.

“I — probably like everyone else, whoever came across him — would have thought this is not something that would happen,” he said. “There’s just no way to know.”

A candlelight vigil for two police officers and a first responder who were shot and killed in Burnsville, Minn., on Sunday.Abbie Parr / AP

At the time of the filing, Higbee said people close to Gooden had vouched for his character. His client also had evidence of rehabilitation and had gone a dozen years without a felony conviction, the attorney said.

Higbee declined to say when he last spoke to Gooden. No appeal or additional motions were filed after the court’s rejection, he said.

Higbee called the fatal shooting a “tragedy” for the families of the first responders, as well as for Gooden’s.

“Those kids are never going to be the same,” he said.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Sunday’s fatal shooting.

Authorities said there had been no prior calls for service at the home or regarding the suspected shooter.

Melissa Chan

Melissa Chan is a reporter for NBC News Digital with a focus on veterans’ issues, mental health in the military and gun violence.

Karen Cortes

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Adrienne Broaddus

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