Freshly unveiled tribute to first responders takes on new meaning after Burnsville tragedy

Freshly unveiled tribute to first responders takes on new meaning after Burnsville tragedy

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(KSTP) – Less than two weeks after three first responders were shot and killed in Burnsville, and just a couple of days after their public memorial, there’s a new tribute to those who answer the call to help others.

On Friday, three bronze statues were unveiled in Burnsville, portraying a police officer, a firefighter and a paramedic.

“What this statuary represents is a longtime commitment to honor our police, fire and paramedics,” said Brad Folkestad, a board member for the Burnsville Community Foundation.

Remarkably, these works were commissioned well before the tragedy, but the artist who created them, Mary Pat Lutz, says they are now more meaningful than ever.

“I was always inspired, really very much respect our first responders,” Lutz said.

The sculpture, called “Homage,” stands just feet from the memorial honoring the city’s recently fallen first responders, police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth.

Lutz says she, like many in Burnsville, is in mourning.

“Going in there, knowing any day they go to work they could lose their lives — my heart is just torn for their families,” she said.

Because of permitting delays, the statues have not been seen in public until now. The Burnsville Community Foundation says this is a fitting tribute in a time of loss.

“I believe it is a very good tribute,” Folkestad said. “… No time better than now to unveil this.”

Lutz spent days meeting with first responders, careful to not specific details about their uniforms and equipment. Her daughter Brianna, a former police officer, helped out.

“They’re all really wonderful, wonderful people,” Lutz said. “They’re all heroes, every one of them.”

For now, the sculpture is on a trailer. Eventually, the three pieces will face outward in a circle, allowing people to stand inside — a symbol of protecting and serving the public.

Burnsville city officials are still working on a plan for a permanent installation.