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Community mourns slain Mendota Heights officer
Suspect arrested, injured in police shootout
The flag at the Holiday station in West St. Paul was at half-staff Wednesday, hours after a Mendota Heights police officer was fatally shot during a traffic stop in front of the Dodd Road gas station where cops from both cities departments often grab coffee.
Officer Scott Patrick, 47, the city’s longest-tenured officer, was killed July 30, just after noon during a routine traffic stop on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue in West St. Paul. Officers and medical personnel responded immediately and tried to resuscitate him.
He died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul shortly after. At press time, the details of the funeral at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in West St. Paul were set to be released Friday.
More bullets flew as the sun set that night. The suspect, Brian George Fitch Sr., 39, who is from the areas of South St. Paul and West St. Paul, was arrested Wednesday evening after exchanging gunfire with multiple officers who received a tip that the suspect was at a house along the 30 block of East Sycamore Street.
Fitch initially fled from the scene of the shooting in a green Pontiac Grand Am, instigating a massive manhunt involving multiple police agencies.
Police surrounded a house affiliated with the investigation on Pond Circle West in Mendota Heights. The search stretched to St. Paul’s West Side, where officers followed up on tips, and ended at St. Paul’s North Side.
After trying to flee from police in a car, Fitch opened fire at officers, who fired back, shooting Fitch several times. Fitch and Kelly Lee Hardy, 36, who was hit with a bullet while in the car with him, were both hospitalized.
Fitch was in “serious condition” at Regions Hospital Thursday, according to police. He has a slew of prior convictions on his record, including fleeing an officer and assault.
Hardy, of Maplewood, was in “fair” condition. Police said Thursday that she is not under arrest and her role is still undetermined.
According to West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon, additional suspects aren’t being sought. He added that the case is “very fluid” as the investigation, led by West St. Paul police, continues.
At press time, the Dakota County and Ramsey County attorneys scheduled a news conference Friday related to criminal charges in the shooting death.
Mourning an officer, friend, father
As the community rejoiced at Fitch’s capture, hundreds of people surrounded a growing pile of flowers, candles and balloons near where Patrick was gunned down. Porch lights throughout the community were left on in his honor that night.
He was the first Minnesota officer to die in the line of duty this year.
“Officer Scott worked here my entire career,” Mendota Heights Police Chief Michael Aschenbrener said at a press conference Wednesday evening. “He was a very dedicated police officer; a family man who absolutely adored his children.”
Patrick had been with the Mendota Heights Police Department since 1995. He worked mainly during the day as a patrol officer during his storied career with the force.
He leaves behind a wife and teenage children, who are requesting privacy at this time, according to Aschenbrener.
“We all share in this great loss,” Mendota Heights Mayor Sandra Krebsbach said, while offering condolences to the family and the police department. “Officer Patrick was a dedicated officer in the city of Mendota Heights for 19 years, and was our most senior officer.”
Gov. Mark Dayton released a statement saying he was “appalled by the killing.”
‘Bang, bang, bang’
Mike Youness and his wife, Lynn, were in their living room when they heard three gunshots just after noon. After the “bang, bang, bang,” he ran outside and saw a police officer lying on the street on his back.
“It was obvious his wounds were fatal,” he said. “I feel terrible. It was terrible to see him lying there like that.”
He said he saw a woman wearing medical scrubs trying to help him, but it soon became clear there wasn’t much that could be done.
“Our sympathies to the family,” Youness added, as his wife sat on their stoop along Ottawa Avenue across the street from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crew inspecting the area around Patrick’s SUV.
Another man who lives nearby, who wished to remain unnamed, said he heard three gunshots, but didn’t realize what had happened until later on in the day.
“I’ve heard some people say four shots, and some say two, but I’m pretty positive I heard three,” he said. “I didn’t realize what had completely happened until later on. I heard gunshots, so I stayed away from the window for a while.”
Samantha Greengo, the cousin of a Mendota Heights officer who was not involved in the shooting, went towards the site of the shooting. An employee of another Holiday, Greengo heard about a cop being killed in West St. Paul, and raced to the scene to see if she could find out more information.
“I came to see if I could find out any answers,” she said, with her phone full of missed calls from worried family members.
Answers came hours later at a press conference at 5 p.m., where authorities revealed the names of the victim and their suspect, who was caught less than 10 hours after Patrick’s death.
“This was really a traumatic day,” St. Paul police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Paulos said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “We could have lost a lot more guys, but we didn’t.”
Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.
Tim Faklis can be reached at 651-748-7814, at email@example.com, or on Twitter @tfaklisnews.
Online tributes to devoted officer
"We are appalled by the tragic killing of Mendota Heights Police officer Scott Patrick. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. We pray that they be given strength and solace during this terrible time."
- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton
"Though we are pleased that the suspect is in custody, it is overshadowed by the loss of a husband, father, friend, and dedicated officer. Our communities were one last night and forever. Delaware Avenue does not divide our cities, it is a bridge over our grief and a path to our unity. May we always stick together, and support the family, the officers, and our cities."
- West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller
"I had a chance to know officer Scott Patrick, a friendly and engaging Mendota Heights police officer who was killed today in the line of duty.
My thoughts and prayers go out to officer Patrick's family and friends, as well as to the community of Mendota Heights and the Mendota Heights Police Department."
- Rep. Joe Atkins
"All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Scott Patrick family this evening. Please keep the Mendota Heights Police Department, and all metro emergency services folks in your thoughts. When one of us dies, a piece of us all is lost forever."
- St. Louis County Rescue Squad
A Scott Patrick Memorial Fund has been set up through Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.
Donations can be made by phone at 651-291-3700, in person at any of the Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union Branches,and by mail at 175 W. Lafayette Frontage Rd., St. Paul, MN 55107.
A fund has been set up to benefit his family at www.gofundme.com/ccqr1s. Thousands of dollars have already poured in.