Man with history of violence charged in shooting death of Mendota Heights officer


Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener speaks fondly of the last time he spoke to Officer Scott Patrick, who was killed in the line of duty July 30. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener address members of the media Friday, Aug. 1, at a press conference related to murder charges against Brian George Fitch Sr. in the shooting death of Mendota Heights Officer Scott Patrick. His funeral will be Wednesday. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi hosted a joint press conference Friday, Aug. 1, related to murder charges against Brian George Fitch Sr., following the fatal shooting of Mendota Heights Officer Scott Patrick, 47. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Officer Scott Patrick

Brian George Fitch, Sr.

West St. Paul police investigate Scott Patrick's murder

The West St. Paul Police Department has spent uncounted hours of overtime investigating the murder of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, who was killed July 30 during a routine traffic stop on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue in West St. Paul.

It's not the first time the investigators have spent more than 24 or 36 hours straight working a case, according to West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon.

"It's been very draining, but we're getting through it," Sturgeon said. "We can handle it.

"Whatever resources it takes to get the job done, we'll make it happen."

Thanks to an investigation lead by local police and the St. Paul Police Department, suspect Brian George Fitch Sr., 39, who is still hospitalized after being injured in a shootout with police prior to his arrest, is now facing two second-degree murder charges and three attempted murder charges for allegedly killing Patrick, 47, and shooting at three other St. Paul police officers who chased after him after receiving a tip that he was at a house along the 30 block of East Sycamore Street around 8 p.m. Wednesday amidst a several-hour, massive manhunt.

According to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, Fitch faces mandatory life in prison without parole for the murder charges, and 20 years for each attempted murder charge if he is convicted.

The case is expected to go to a multi-county grand jury.

'Officer down'

Fitch, who lives in Mendota Heights at the home of the man who sold him the green Pontiac Grand Am he drove that day, allegedly shot Patrick in the head and then fled, leaving the officer to die.

After the sounds of three gunshots and a car speeding off filled the neighborhood, witnesses nearby rushed to Patrick's aid. One witness used Patrick's radio to notify dispatch that there was an officer down, according to Backstrom.

No other officers were injured while tracking down and arresting Fitch, even during a shootout that left Fitch with several gunshot wounds. Police said Kelly Hardy, 36, who was riding in Fitch's car, sustained non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Another man jumped out of the car moments before Fitch opened fire at the officers with a 9 mm Smith & Wesson, according to the complaint.

The complaint said that during the shootout, Fitch, who has a criminal record filled with violence- and drug-related charges and convictions, "made no signs of wanting to give up or surrender. He was ducking down and coming up repeatedly" while firing.

Even lying wounded at Regions Hospital, he didn't back down.

He told the officer looking after him, "Just to let you know, I hate cops and I'm guilty," the complaint stated.

Funeral arrangements

While police have been investigating the murder and the events leading up to Fitch's arrest, the family has been planning a funeral for the slain officer at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in West St. Paul.

According to Sturgeon, much of the area surrounding the church, which is located at the corner of Charlton Street and Wentworth Avenue, will be blocked off, starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Funeral services for Patrick will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6. A visitation is scheduled at the church from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 5.

Memorials, flowers and candles continued to pile up Friday afternoon along Dodd Road near where Patrick was gunned down.

Wearing black bands on their badges, officers have been grieving the loss of a friend and colleague, while investigating his murder. According to Sturgeon, it's protocol for officers to be offered counseling in the aftermath of such a tragedy.

He added the police departments of Mendota Heights and West St. Paul are close-knit.

"We're basically the same police department," he said.

"This has been an extremely bad week for law enforcement in our community," county attorney Backstrom said at press conference Friday afternoon.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.

 

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