Mendota Heights' Scott Patrick first Minnesota cop killed in line of duty since 2012

Categories: Police, Tragedy
Though he hasn't yet been charged, authorities have linked Fitch (left) with the murder of Officer Patrick (right).
Yesterday, tragically, Mendota Heights' most veteran police officer, 47-year-old Scott Patrick, became the first Minnesota officer killed in the line of duty since Cold Spring Officer Tom Decker was gunned down under mysterious circumstances in November 2012.

Patrick was shot in the head during a routine traffic stop on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue South just across Mendota Heights' border in West St. Paul around 12:20 p.m. Authorities believe 39-year-old Brian Fitch was the gunman. At this point there's no indication the two ever interacted with each other previously, but Fitch may have had a motive to open fire -- a warrant has been out for his arrest since last month, the Pioneer Press reports.

See also:
Ryan Larson, Cold Spring officer shooting suspect, released: "They have no evidence"

Patrick was a married father of two teenage daughters. A biker who witnessed the shooting from a nearby gas station and knew Patrick told the PiPress, "He was a damn good cop, by all means, and I don't even like cops... You know when you're in school and you have one of those teachers that always seems to sincerely care? He was that guy."

Fitch sped away from the scene in a green Pontiac Grand Am. Hours later, a vehicle believed to be Fitch's was spotted in a back yard near Sycamore and Rice streets in St. Paul. Following a chase that ended in that same area about 8 p.m., at least one injured person was removed by authorities from a silver van riddled with bullet holes, Fox 9 reports.

During a subsequent news conference, St. Paul police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Paulos said Fitch was driving with his girlfriend when he noticed officers and tried to evade them by doing a U-turn in a parking lot, but he was soon blocked off and opened fire. Officers returned fire, injuring Fitch and his girlfriend. They were both transported to Regions Hospital, where they're being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Fox.

KSTP reports that a third person is in custody in connection to Patrick's shooting, but the circumstances of that arrest aren't immediately clear.

The Star Tribune reports that Fitch has previously been arrested for felony theft, prescription fraud, a felony drug offense, felony assault, and terroristic threats (among other arrests), and has convictions for burglary, terroristic threats, and marijuana possession. He's also "been to court several times for failing to pay or provide child support to several different women," the Strib writes.

After Patrick's death, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges released a statement saying, "This tragedy is a reminder that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for us each day."

(For more, click to page two.)

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