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View All Articles | May 28, 2024

Police chief: ‘Bearcat’ armored vehicle, shot 41 times, saved additional officer lives in Burnsville

Categories: Blog News

ROSEMOUNT, Minn — Even after being repaired, the scars remain. Scars on the Rosemount Police Department’s Bearcat — the armored vehicle used in Burnsville on February 18 — as Shannon Gooden murdered two officers and a firefighter paramedic.

“You can see where one went through a hinge here, there’s a big gaping hole,” said Rosemount Police Chief Mike Dahlstrom while pointing out various spots of damage. “You can see some of these rounds skipped down the ballistic armor to protect the people on the inside of the vehicle.”

The Bearcat was instrumental in officers being able to remove officers Matthew Ruge and Paul Elmstrand and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth from Gooden’s home without more first responders being killed.

“We believe that the suspect shot over 100 times in that incident. The Bearcat took 41 of those rounds,” Dahlstrom said. “They were able to give medical treatment behind the safety of this armored vehicle and attempt to save those officers’ lives while still taking fire from the suspect.  Because this vehicle was on scene, it’s my estimate that we didn’t lose another 6-10 officers that day.”

Chief Mike Dahlstrom will use the Burnsville incident as one example, but he believes the vehicle’s importance is proved in incidents you never hear about — where no one is hurt — such as one suicidal man in Rosemount who was pointing a gun at police.

“And because you’re behind a windshield that’s ballistic, armor that’s ballistic, we didn’t need to use force against someone who was pointing a gun in our direction,” Dahlstrom said.

Vehicles like these are controversial and politicians are divided.

State Representative Aisha Gomez expressed concern in this year’s legislative session when the topic of purchasing the vehicles with state money was raised.

“There’s a concern not just from me but from many of my constituents about militarization of police,” Gomez said.

But fellow Democrat, Congresswoman Angie Craig, this week unveiled a bill to free up restrictions to purchase Bearcats with federal funds.

“This isn’t an offensive tool. It’s a defense or reactive tool,” Dahlstom said.

With between 20 and 50 deployments each year, Chief Dahlstrom thinks opponents don’t realize the Bearcat allows police to safely handle many situations the way critics want.

“It allows us to bring those negotiators, those crisis workers, our social workers and actually put them in the front seat and make a personal connection with people,” Dahlstrom said.

The Rosemount Bearcat is used throughout Dakota County and Rice County. It was out of service for about one month after the Burnsville shooting.

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