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Minnesota man who shot 3 first responders wasn't allowed to have guns

Court records show Minnesota barred the man from possessing guns after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
Minnesota man who shot 3 first responders wasn't allowed to have guns
Posted at 7:45 PM, Feb 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 21:45:20-05

A man who died after fatally shooting two police officers and a firefighter in a wooded Minneapolis-area neighborhood wasn't legally allowed to have guns and was entangled in a yearslong dispute over the custody and financial support of his three oldest children, court records show.

Authorities on Monday identified Shannon Gooden, 38, as the man who opened fire on police in the affluent suburb of Burnsville after they responded to a domestic disturbance call early Sunday. The caller reported that he had barricaded himself in his home with family members, including seven children aged 2 to 15. He was found dead inside the home hours later.

His standoff with police came only two days before a scheduled district court hearing over his ongoing legal disputes with the mother of his three oldest children. Online court records show that those children spent most nights with him, but that he still wanted to go back to court. The records do not say why.

The attorney representing Gooden in the custody dispute, Robert Manson, did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

Court records also show the state barred Gooden from possessing guns after he pleaded guilty in 2008, aged 22, to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors said he threw rocks and pulled a knife on a man in a Burnsville shopping mall parking lot.

SEE MORE: Minnesota community mourns police, paramedic killed during house call

Authorities have not provided details about Sunday's call to Gooden’s home, and it’s not clear exactly how he died. But court records suggest he cared for seven children — the three oldest by one woman, two more with another and that woman’s two children from a previous relationship. When he petitioned a court unsuccessfully in 2020 to have his gun rights restored, he and his attorney said he had matured and that he regretted his past poor decisions.

“He is a good man to his peers and his family,” one longtime friend wrote to the judge in August 2020. “He has personally guided me and many others through some very tough times all through the kindness of his heart.”

But court records show his disputes over the parenting of his oldest three children had grown increasingly contentious. He accused their mother of neglect and she called him “controlling” and accused him of abusing her and the children.

Prosecutors opposed his effort to restore his right to possess guns, citing the details of his crime and repeated traffic violations that they said showed his disregard for the law.

Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said officers “spent quite a bit of time” negotiating with Gooden before he opened fire. He killed Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic who was assigned to the city’s SWAT team.

Sgt. Adam Medlicott was shot and wounded and was later released from a hospital, the city said.

Gooden finished serving five years’ probation for the 2007 assault charge in 2013. When he pleaded guilty, prosecutors dropped charges of making terroristic threats and criminal damage to property, court records show.

Prosecutors said the 2007 altercation began when he argued with a young woman inside the mall who accused him of harassment. He followed the woman and her cousin to their car and threatened to slash their tires, prosecutors said.

The woman's brother approached Gooden and the two stripped off their shirts to fight. Gooden ran at him with a knife, but a security guard disarmed him, so Gooden threw rocks at the brother before speeding away in his own vehicle, prosecutors said.

Gooden said in a sworn statement: “I greatly regret and have learned from the poor decisions of my past. I would like to have a second chance to prove myself as a productive member of society.”

Court records show that Gooden also unsuccessfully sought relief from a 2017 order that required him to pay $600 a month in child support to the mother of his three oldest children, as well as $240 a month for their medical expenses.

The judge ordered a hearing and appointed a temporary guardian to look after the interests of the two boys and a girl. The boys are now 12 and 15 and the girl is 14. The guardian expressed concern about allegations of abuse against Gooden, the mental health of the children's mother, and that the children had witnessed physical altercations between their parents and other adults.

The custody issues were settled in mid-2022, but the parents battled over schooling. Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan Jr. eventually said the three children would spend 260 nights a year with Gooden, and that their mother would pay him child support.

At the start of 2023, Gilligan wrote “there is little evidence of cooperation between the parties.”


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