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Suspect in shooting of Minnesota officers and medic had violent past, lost right to own guns

By Paul Walsh Minneapolis Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS – The man suspected of fatally shooting two police officers and a fire department medic before taking his own life early Sunday at a home in Burnsville was identified Monday as a 38-year-old who has one serious criminal conviction on his record along with accusations of violent outbursts against two women with whom he shared children.

Shannon Cortez Gooden was convicted of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon stemming from 2007, when he brandished a knife and threw rocks at a victim during a fight in a Burnsville shopping center parking lot.

His identity as the shooter was confirmed to the Star Tribune Monday by a source who was briefed about the investigation.

Gooden’s conviction was eventually reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor because Gooden abided by the terms of his probation. While this order restored his right to vote, he still was barred for life from owning firearms.

In August 2020, Gooden petitioned the court in vain to regain his right to own a gun, explaining that he wanted to protect himself and his family, according to court records.

Gooden pointed out to the court he has not been convicted of any further serious crimes, has taken anger management and parenting classes, advanced his education, maintained steady employment in the auto repair business for many years “and provided for his long-term girlfriend, her two children and his five children.”

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office countered that along with the assault conviction, Gooden “has had additional encounters with police involving assaults, disorderly conduct and numerous traffic violations demonstrating a continued disregard to obey that law.”

The County Attorney’s Office pointed out two orders for protection filed against him by women he shared children with.

One of the women told the court Gooden on Oct. 30, 2017, gave her a concussion and a black eye with a head-butt and threw her down the stairs.

The other woman said in her petition that on July 7, 2020, Gooden grabbed a knife while the two argued “and cut her clothes and swiped her foot,” sending the woman down the stairs. At times, the woman continued, would pull her hair, throw her against the wall and “even let family members assault (her).”

Both petitions failed to win either woman an order for protection. In the 2017 filing the woman failed to appear for a hearing. A judge dismissed the second petition for lack of evidence.

One of the women believed to have been living with Gooden at the time of Sunday’s shooting declined to speak with the Star Tribune. Gooden’s family also declined comment.

The officers and medic paramedic were shot and killed at a home early Sunday after an hourslong standoff following a domestic abuse call.

Gooden had barricaded himself inside the home with a woman and seven children, and died after turning his weapon on himself, authorities said.

Officers were sent to the residence in the 12600 block of 33rd Avenue S. just before 2 a.m. and attempted to communicate with those inside. Several hours later, gunfire erupted, striking three officers and the medic as he tended to one of the wounded.

Jeremiah Hatley submitted a letter to the court in support of Gooden’s effort to regain the right to own a gun. Hatley said he had known Gooden for roughly 15 years and was “a man I have grown to call my brother.”

On Monday, Hatley told the Star Tribune that he and Gooden stayed in touch nearly every day, and he “was a good man and had a good career painting vehicles. … My brother took care of his kids.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation. Ashlee Sherrill, a spokesperson for the St. Paul division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Monday that the ATF was working closely with law enforcement in response to the shooting.

“ATF can provide a number of beneficial resources that may aid in the case and we have been doing so,” Sherrill said. “Due to this being an active investigation, we are limited what we can share to the public and we will defer to BCA as they lead this investigation.”

It is not yet clear how Gooden acquired the gun he was barred from owning based on his past conviction. Rob Doar, senior vice president of government affairs for the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said that while Gooden was under probation, police could search for firearms on his person or property based on “reasonable suspicion at any time” instead of the higher bar of proving probable cause to a judge.

But once Gooden’s probation ended, police would need additional evidence linking him to illegal gun possession or happen upon him illegally possessing the gun during a traffic stop or other interaction.

James Densley, a criminal justice professor at Metro State University and co-founder of the Violence Project, said Monday that the estimated nearly 400 million firearms circulating in the United States pose numerous opportunities for guns to “wind up in the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”

The ATF has recently sounded the alarm about concerns around the country of guns being stolen from lawful owners, manufacturers or licensed dealers. People prohibited from buying firearms may also rely on those who aren’t to purchase the weapons on their behalf, a practice commonly referred to as “straw purchasing.” Others may lie about their prohibited status and slip through the cracks if the background check process fails to flag them. Insufficient documentation of past crimes or dishonorable military discharges may also allow otherwise prohibited persons from circumventing background processes.

Though the origin of Gooden’s illegal gun possession was too soon to tell as of Monday afternoon, Doar said it was not likely he would have stolen the firearms from a licensed dealer or elsewhere.

“Typically, the people who steal guns from gun stores don’t hold on to them,” Doar said. “They’re selling them because that’s directly tying them to that crime.”

The frequency of armed interactions between law enforcement and civilians nationwide, Densley said, also underlies still simmering tensions in police-community relations.

“When they get called to a domestic violence situation, or when they get called to a traffic stop or whatever it is that they’re doing, there’s always the chance that that person is armed and it raises the stakes for all those interactions,” Densley said. “This is an example that really highlights that and I think it’s an untold story of gun violence because there’s this whole idea of, ‘Well, we just need good guys with guns to protect us.’ But here we’ve got a situation where there’s tons of good guys with guns, and it’s the good guys that are getting shot.”

Star Tribune staff writers Rochelle Olson and Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.