Widow of Burnsville Officer: ‘He was our rock, he was our provider’

In an interview Friday with FOX 9’s Paul Blume, the widow of fallen Burnsville Police Officer Paul Elmstrand says her husband was so much more than just a hero to their young family.

"He was our rock. He was our provider. He is what brought joy to our lives," explained Cindy Elmstrand-Castruita in her first TV interview since the tragic events of Feb. 18, when Elmstrand was one of three emergency responders killed in a hail of gunfire during a standoff.

The trio was honored this week in a massive statewide memorial service at Grace Church in Eden Prairie.

Before he died, Officer Elmstrand signed up to be a member of the Honor Guard and the State Law Enforcement Organization responsible for honoring the fallen.

Cindy explained that he cared so much for his brothers and sisters wearing the badge.

"He deeply and personally knew the sacrifice that police officers and their families have to make every day," she said. 

Elmstrand-Castruita told Blume that she and Paul had big dreams for their lives together, especially for their two precious children. She described her husband’s love for his family as unconditional, and has promised to make sure their kids know that as they grow up without their father.

She told Blume she never worried too much about her husband’s safety on the job because he was so confident in his partners and his training, making what happened even more agonizing.

"I was never up at night just, like, wondering if he was okay or not," stated Elmstrand-Castruita. "I just believed him that he knew what he was doing and that he knew how to take care of himself and his partners."

Elmstrand-Castruita believes her husband died doing what he loved, what he signed up to do, and that was protecting others. In this situation, seven children barricaded inside a home with gunman Shannon Gooden.

"I think it really was just something unexpected that turned ugly really quickly," explained Elmstrand-Castruita. "Yeah, definitely the forces of evil. Like, they didn't see it coming whatsoever."

Elmstrand-Castruita insists, she will never forget the pounding at their door to report the horrific news. Somehow afterwards, she found the strength to listen to the officer’s emergency communications recorded during the hours long standoff that brought her some comfort, in the end.

Said Elmstrand-Castruita, "I know my husband. He was perfectly calm and collected. He was not scared. And I know that he probably thought in that moment, everything was going to be just fine, I am with the people who I trust. We have trained together. We know what to do."

After saying an agonizing goodbye to the love of her life this week -- the couple first met in kindergarten and fell in love in high school, Elmstrand-Castruita must now pick up the pieces, for herself, and for her children, 2-year-old Maria and 6-month-old Mateo.

"No one gives you a handbook of how to deal with something like this," she concluded. "And, you know, as many times as Paul and I talked about it, I never thought that it would be him. I never wished that it would be him."