Sheriff Scott Knudson of St. Croix County, Wis., joined the procession Sunday as hundreds of fellow law enforcement officers mourned two Burnsville policemen and a paramedic who were fatally shot on the job a few hours earlier. As much as anyone, Knudson knows the pain involved.

Last May, St. Croix County deputy Kaitie Leising was fatally shot while answering a call about a drunken driver in a ditch near Glenwood City, Wis. She is part of a grim recent tally that grew to nine as of Sunday — the list of agencies in Minnesota and neighboring states whose personnel have been killed or wounded on duty since April 2023.

"What got us through the weeks and months and is still getting us through, is reaching out to each other and seeing how people are doing," Knudson said Monday in an interview. "It is reaching out and sharing our shared grief."

The bodies of Burnsville police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and Fire Department paramedic Adam Finseth were carried in procession Sunday from Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis to a medical examiner's office in Minnetonka. Knudson said the outpouring from fellow law enforcement agencies and the public in response to a "senseless act of extreme violence" will be meaningful for the two Burnsville departments in tough times ahead.

"It's so important to be there for that agency and for the community to come together," Knudson said. "That stuff means the world to us, but we need to see that. We need support from the community. We need those in the emergency world to lean on each other. This was a big blow."

A similar outpouring took place last April, also in western Wisconsin, after two officers — Chetek police officer Emily Breidenbach and Cameron police officer Hunter Scheel — were shot and killed during a traffic stop. Cameron Police Chief Adam Steffen said Sunday's killings in Burnsville hit close to home.

He emailed Burnsville police to let them know he's there to offer support.

"When I heard about it, I immediately got angry," Steffen said. "Then I thought of … everything that we went through, and I just wanted to reach out."

In the days following the deaths, other agencies picked up the patrol shifts for Cameron police to give officers time to mourn and process the loss. A nonprofit called the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Death Response team helped with offering counseling to officers, and donations came in to support the staff , Steffen said.

"I'm an advocate of mental health, so we utilize that. I know all my officers have utilized it at least once because I required them to," said Steffen, who has been with the department since 2022.

When a department loses one of its officers, Steffen said, it's hard to move on and resume work knowing that someone died serving in the same role.

"You're expected to perform your job — the same job that got them killed — and not think about it. You know how hard that is? I don't think people understand," Steffen said, adding that his officers had two weeks off following the deaths last year.

After Leising's death, neighboring agencies also picked up patrol shifts for the St. Croix Sheriff's Office, leaving deputies time to grieve and stay home with their families. The agency held scores of debriefing sessions with a wellness component for deputies, family members, their children and others touched by the tragedy for months after the incident. Many phone calls were made, colleagues checking in on each other, Knudson said.

As news about Sunday's shooting spread, Knudson said, the calls started again.

"Anxiety is high again," he said. "Events like this reopen up everything in our office, in Cameron and Chetek (Wis.), Pope County (Minn.) and Fargo," he added, referencing other police killings in the region since last April. "It brings you right back to where you were, what you were feeling, helpless, hopeless. Officers in other agencies are probably feeling the same way."

Knudson said his agency is standing with Burnsville because of the support St. Croix received during its time of need. But he is "saddened, sickened and angry" that police killings continue.

"Officers put themselves in harm's way for people they have never met and get killed for it," he said. "Something has to change. We are struggling to work through this. It is taking its toll. With words of encouragement, we will get through."