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The two AR-15-style firearms used to kill three Burnsville first responders and wound another last month were bought by the shooter's girlfriend just weeks before he used them to unload more than 100 rounds during an hourslong standoff at the couple's home, according to new federal charges unsealed Thursday.

A federal grand jury indicted Ashley Anne Dyrdahl, 35, on 11 counts, including conspiracy, straw purchasing and making false statements for procuring five firearms on behalf of 38-year-old Shannon Cortez Gooden, who was prohibited from having them based on a prior conviction.

Two rifles used in the Feb. 18 shooting were bought by Dyrdahl on Jan. 5 and Jan. 25, respectively, weeks before Gooden shot and killed officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, then took his own life. Dyrdahl was living at the home with Gooden on the day police were called in response to a domestic abuse call, where Gooden barricaded himself inside with seven children present. Gooden also wounded Burnsville police Sgt. Adam Medlicott during the shootout.

"Now today we can answer the questions Minnesotans have been asking since Feb. 18," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said at a news conference Thursday.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is still investigating the broader circumstances surrounding the case — such as the events leading to police first being called to the home and the shooting itself — but Superintendent Drew Evans said Thursday that the federal charges closed a key loop.

"Ashley Dyrdahl didn't shoot anybody, make no mistake; that was Shannon Gooden in this incident," Evans said. "But Ashley Dyrdahl handed him the guns, and for this she must be held accountable."

Dyrdahl surrendered to U.S. marshals and made a brief, 16-minute first appearance in a St. Paul federal courtroom. Luger's office did not seek to have Dyrdahl detained before trial, and she was released soon after appearing in court. Dyrdahl and an attorney from the federal defender's office who appeared alongside her both declined to comment. The attorney, Robert Meyers, told Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright that Dyrdahl intended to plead not guilty to all charges.

Wright agreed to release Dyrdahl under conditions that included restricting her travel to within Minnesota, cooperating with a mental health assessment and agreeing not to possess firearms, destructive devices or any other weapons. Dyrdahl also agreed to random drug testing and to abstain from alcohol.

Ashley Dyrdahl covers her face while leaving the federal courthouse on Thursday in St. Paul.
Ashley Dyrdahl covers her face while leaving the federal courthouse on Thursday in St. Paul.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

According to the indictment:

In 2016, Dyrdahl began a relationship with Gooden, and knew that he had previously been convicted of second-degree assault, a felony, which precluded him from owning firearms. In 2019, she filed a letter in support of Gooden's petition to restore his firearm rights in which she acknowledged his conviction and crime. That petition was later denied. Despite this, the charges said, Dyrdahl bought five firearms from two federally licensed dealers between September 2023 and January of this year before "knowingly and intentionally" transferring them to Gooden.

As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges Gooden sent Dyrdahl text messages of firearms he wanted her to buy for him. She would then place the orders at dealers, and filled out federally required paperwork stating that she was the actual buyer of the firearms and that she was not planning to transfer them to a felon. During a text exchange between Dyrdahl and Gooden, the two discussed background checks and other questions from firearm sellers, in which Dyrdahl allegedly told Gooden, "We just gotta make sure we're smart about all this ya know?"

Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz speaks Thursday during the announcement that Ashley Anne Dyrdahl has been indicted for placing firearms in the hands of Shannon Gooden.
Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz speaks Thursday during the announcement that Ashley Anne Dyrdahl has been indicted for placing firearms in the hands of Shannon Gooden.

Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune

The final purchase listed in the indictment happened Jan. 25 at the Burnsville Pistol and Rifle Range. Owner Roger Hird told the Star Tribune that Dyrdahl came in to pick up the lower portion for a PA-15 semiautomatic that she bought online from Palmetto State Armory in Columbia, S.C., and had it shipped to the range, which is a federal firearm license holder. Hird said his business completed the transfer to Dyrdahl "after she filled out the [federal background check] forms without any assistances. She knew what she was doing and wasn't nervous or anything. It raised no red flags."

Luger told reporters Thursday that Burnsville Pistol and Rifle Range and the Modern Sportsman Gun Shop and Range, also in Burnsville, "cooperated with our investigation" but declined to provide further details.

According to the indictment, among the firearms Dyrdahl bought and transferred to Gooden at his direction were three semiautomatic AR-15-style firearm lower-receivers. One of these was a Franklin Armory FAI-15 .300-caliber semiautomatic firearm that was equipped with a binary trigger. A firearm with a binary trigger fires one shot when the trigger is pulled, and another when the trigger is released, effectively doubling the rate of fire. Dyrdahl also purchased a .300-caliber barrel for the lower receiver.

Dyrdahl knew that Gooden was loading the semiautomatic AR-15-style firearms with .300 Blackout ammunition, which is a heavier load ammunition that has an increased potential for being lethal, prosecutors said. Gooden referred to them as "higher pressure" rounds, according to the indictment.

The indictment describes a text exchange between the couple on Feb. 10, about a week before the shooting, in which Gooden describes going to a shooting range.

"I love my 300 blackout," he wrote to Dyrdahl.

"Haha good baby," she replied.

Later, Gooden texted, "It's nasty bae," to which she replied, "hell yeah."

"Thanks for making me so happy," Gooden texted.

"You're welcome baby thank you for making me so happy to [sic] ...."

On Thursday, Luger recounted another text exchange in which Dyrdahl asked Gooden how he liked his new Glock 47 semiautomatic pistol she had just bought him.

"He responded by sending her a video in which he loaded the Glock 47 with an extended magazine," Luger said. "She responded with a smiling heart emoji."

Gooden soon followed with an emoji of his own, depicting a finger pressed to his lips as if to say "shhh."

A conviction in 2008 for second-degree assault in Dakota County prohibited Gooden from possessing firearms or ammunition. In August 2020, Gooden petitioned the court unsuccessfully to regain his right to own a gun. He said that he wanted to protect himself and his family, according to court records.

Straw purchasing, or knowingly buying firearms on behalf of a prohibited person, is outlawed under both state and federal law in Minnesota. The federal straw purchasing charges against Dyrdahl are just the second such case filed in Minnesota since the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gave federal prosecutors the ability to charge that as a felony. Luger said that prosecutors can seek penalties of up to 15 years in federal prison under the new law.

"The indictment charges her with intentionally and deliberately and knowingly engaging in this conduct," Luger said. "That's the law."

Travis Riddle, special agent in charge of the St. Paul division of the ATF, said straw purchasing makes it possible for prohibited persons to "effectively circumvent the background check and recordkeeping requirements of federal law by distancing themselves from the documented part of the firearm purchase."

In a letter supporting Gooden having his gun rights restored in 2020, Dyrdahl wrote that "family is everything to him and that is why these rights are so meaningful to him. He hopes to one day own his own home and protecting that home involves having these Second Amendment rights."

Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena said Thursday: "In retrospect, it was the seven children in his home that needed protection from him. Ms. Dyrdahl is the reason why he had an arsenal of firearms in his possession that ultimately resulted in the murder of three of Dakota County's finest and the injury of another as they selflessly acted to protect those children."

According to the indictment, a law enforcement search of the bedroom Gooden and Dyrdahl shared found a "stockpile of fully loaded magazines as well as boxes with hundreds of additional rounds of ammunition and additional firearms."

Prosecutors moved at a swift pace to bring the charges: The grand jury returned the indictment under seal on Wednesday, just a day after taking testimony from a group of five witnesses which included the mother of three of the children who were present during the shooting. Noemi del Carmen Torres told the Star Tribune this week that she was asked about Gooden's history of possessing firearms and whether he would have been able to force her to buy any guns on his behalf.

"No, I don't want any of that because I feel like he was gonna kill me," Torres said in an interview this week, noting that Gooden was abusive toward her. "I feared for my life, and that's what I told them."

Keena's office will review the remainder of the BCA's findings once it completes its investigation of the shootings.

"This work will take some time and we ask you for your patience as we continue that work," Evans said Thursday. "There will be a complete accounting of the incident, the facts that led to what happened that day and the incident in its entirety."

Burnsville Fire Chief BJ Jungmann and Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz also attended Thursday's announcement of the charges.

"I believe our partners would be alive today if this woman would not have bought these guns and given them to the murderer who shot our partners on Feb. 18," Jungmann said. "I'm encouraged that there will be accountability for this tragedy."

ATF Special Agent in Charge Travis Riddle speaks Thursday during the announcement that Ashley Anne Dyrdahl has been indicted for placing firearms in the hands of Shannon Gooden.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Travis Riddle speaks Thursday during the announcement that Ashley Anne Dyrdahl has been indicted for placing firearms in the hands of Shannon Gooden.

Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune

Star Tribune staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this story.