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Stickers supporting slain Minn. first responders in high demand

An idea from Minnesota Valley Transit Authority CEO Luther Wynder to show support on transit buses snowballed into a larger show of support

By Tim Harlow
Star Tribune

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Phones have been ringing off the hook and presses running continuously at a Lakeville printing company trying to keep up with demand for decals pledging support for the Burnsville police and fire departments.

Print Lab Wraps has been flooded with requests from people wanting to buy the decals featuring emblems of two agencies that lost first responders Sunday morning when they were shot while answering a domestic violence call in Burnsville.

[EARLIER: FF/medic in Minn. shooting died trying to save wounded officer]

“It’s crazy, nuts,” said Print Lab Wraps General Manager Dennis Swanson. “It’s people close [to Burnsville ] and far away reaching out asking how to get the decal. It’s impressive how many people want to show support.”

It all started Sunday night when Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) CEO Luther Wynder heard that medic Adam Finseth, 40, and police officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, had been killed in the line of duty. With the transit agency’s headquarters in Burnsville, Wynder said he interacts with the department’s officers regularly. He wanted to do something.

Wynder contacted Schmitty & Sons, the bus company that provides drivers and mechanics to MVTA. That led to the idea for the decals. Overnight, Print Lab Wraps staff printed 100 decals and bus company crews worked through the night to affix them to every MVTA bus that pulled out Monday morning, Wynder said.

“It was a collaborative effort,” said Kathryn Forbord, director of Operations for Schmitty and Sons. “Supporting law enforcement, that is at the heart of what we are doing.”

An image of the decals hit social media and “it snowballed from there,” Swanson said. People, including members of law enforcement, and even youth hockey teams who wanted to put the decals on their helmets, began calling wondering how to get them.

“The phones have not stopped ringing. Nonstop is an understatement,” said Dana Bungert, who works in Print Lab Wrap’s operations. The company has only 12 employees. “We can only answer the phone so many times a day.”

She said it’s best to email the firm at

The company is giving decals away free to first responders, and asking others to contribute $1 to cover materials and labor costs.

“We are trying to keep this as cheap as possible,” Swanson said. “We are not making any profit.”

The firm has also printed about 1,000 decals to be given away at Burnsville City Hall.

Wynder said MVTA also gave 12 decals to Metro Transit to display on Orange Line buses, which run from Burnsville to downtown Minneapolis.

“The MVTA is here to support Burnsville Fire and Police,” Wynder said. “This was a crisis that will affect our city for a long time to come. Our buses keep going through the community, and we’re showing our support and keeping them in our memory.”

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