Man accused of killing Minnesota police officer reported to be in serious condition
The man accused of fatally shooting a Mendota Heights police officer Wednesday was listed in serious condition Thursday at Regions Hospital, being treated for gunshot wounds he suffered during his apprehension hours later.
Along with revealing the condition of 39-year-old Brian Fitch Sr., St. Paul police also identified the woman who was with the longtime criminal during his arrest in St. Paul and also wounded as Kelly Lee Hardy.
Authorities have yet to explain the relationship between the two or whether she is suspected of committing a crime.
Hardy is 36 and from Maplewood, according to court records. Police said she is in fair condition.
Officer Scott Thomas Patrick, 47, a father of two from Mendota Heights, was shot to death about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue S. in West St. Paul. Patrick, alone in his squad car, was making "a routine traffic stop" when he was killed, West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon said.
Also Thursday, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom and his Ramsey County counterpart, John Choi, said they will spell out Friday afternoon during a news conference the charges that will be filed against Fitch.
Meanwhile, at the intersection where Patrick was slain, a makeshift memorial was collecting tokens of sympathy from small groups of visitors all through Thursday morning.
Sabrina Molina, of West St. Paul, had her three young sons and infant daughter with her as she set three balloons -- blue, red and silver -- at the site. She said she used to work at the nearby Holiday gas station and remembered Patrick from coming in.
"He used to stop in, just wave a little, smile, say hi," she said. "I thought it was important to pay my respects to someone who helped our community."
That seemed to be the sentiment of the morning from those who arrived to pay their respects -- sometimes for just a few minutes, sometimes longer. Almost everyone said they just wanted to say thank you to a man who spent his life protecting them.
The intensive search for Fitch began immediately after the shooting. Fitch's green Pontiac Grand Am was seen speeding away from the fallen officer.
As dusk fell, police got a tip that Fitch was in a house in the 30 block of E. Sycamore Street in St. Paul’s North End. As officers approached the house in an unmarked car, one saw Fitch driving down the street, according to St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos.
Fitch recognized the car as a police vehicle and tried to evade it, doing a U-turn in a parking lot. Officers then pulled in front of his vehicle.
As an officer got out of the driver’s side of the police car, Fitch started firing. Officers on the passenger side of the police car returned fire, striking Fitch several times, Paulos said.
Patrick was the most senior member of the Mendota Heights force. He’d worked for the city since 1995, mostly as a patrol officer on the day shift.
He is survived by a wife and two teenage daughters. Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener said his family has requested privacy.
Patrick was the first Mendota Heights police officer killed in the line of duty. The next most recent death of an on-duty Minnesota police officer occurred in February 2013, when St. Paul officer Josh Lynaugh died of a heart attack while chasing a juvenile on foot.
Cold Spring officer Tom Decker, killed Nov. 29, 2012, was the last Minnesota police officer shot and killed while on duty.
Before that, Lake City officer Shawn Schneider died after being shot in the head during a domestic call in December 2011.
Fitch, who lives in the South St. Paul/West St. Paul area, has a lengthy criminal history, according to state and local records. Jail records show he was twice jailed in Hennepin County, once for felony theft in December 2009 and once in 1995 on a warrant issued by a judge.
In Ramsey County, he has been jailed for nonpayment of child support in 2006, theft in June 2005, prescription fraud in May 2005, a felony drug offense in January 2003, felony assault in February 2000, and, in May 1999, assault, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm.
He has convictions for burglary in August 2013, terroristic threats and false imprisonment in August 2012 and possession of marijuana in May 2012. He has served time in the state prison at St. Cloud.
Records show he has also been to court several times for failing to pay or provide child support to several different women.