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Continued: Thousands honor officer Patrick at funeral service

Minutes later, the service opened with Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” played on organ and drums, and included an Elvis Presley hit that was sung at the Patricks’ wedding — “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

As mourners dabbed their eyes, the Rev. Cassie Nault, St. Stephen’s associate pastor, spoke of how Patrick had worked in a profession “often surrounded by darkness. He encountered it often, but he never lost that flicker of light.”

The only oblique reference made to Patrick’s alleged killer, Brian Fitch Sr., came in pastor John Snider’s intercessory prayer “for those whose hearts are twisted, whose ignorance has led them to harm … bring them also to your light.”

Fitch, a 39-year-old career criminal, is charged with first-degree murder in Patrick’s death. He remains at Regions Hospital after being shot numerous times by police during a shootout leading to his capture in St. Paul hours after Patrick died.

The last call

The 8-mile procession to the cemetery began about a half-hour after the funeral ended. More than 1,000 police vehicles started up Charlton Street, turned west on Butler Avenue, took a jog at Delaware Avenue and then headed south on Dodd Road.

Ashley Karlson, 26, was among those watching along Butler. Two weeks ago, she had called police about a trespasser in her yard. Patrick had responded and told her how to get an order for protection. Karlson’s house is only six blocks from where Patrick was shot.

“I wanted to pay my respects for his help. He was a very, very nice man,” she said.

Nearby, Rebecca Hovey, 22, held a handmade sign and balloons. She said that she hopes to become a police officer someday and work with a K-9 unit. “Officer Patrick put his life on the line every day … he shows one of the reasons why I want to join the police force myself,” she said.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., squad cars began rolling into Acacia Park Cemetery in Mendota Heights. As they entered, a bell tolled 272 times — once for each Minnesota law officer killed in the line of duty.

Chet Gould, 70, of Brooklyn Park, was among scores of Minnesota Patriot Guard riders who welcomed the officers with American flags.

“I feel it’s my duty,” he said. “I need to. I want to. It fills a void in my life, maybe.”

Slowly, the thousands of officers fell into formation and marched to the grave. They were followed by busfuls of mourners and more squad cars. Then came the honor guard and bagpipers marching to a single drumbeat, followed by the horse-drawn caisson and a riderless horse. The only sound came from the soft drumbeat and the horses’ hoofs on the pavement.

The grave site service was short but poignant. A prayer was read, then a last call sent over a Mendota Heights police car radio: “Calling Badge 2231. Calling Badge 2231. Officer Scott Patrick is out of service. End of watch, July 30, 2014. 10-7.”

Two State Patrol helicopters roared overhead. A bell tolled 22 times for each year Patrick served as a police officer.

And then finally, “Officers! Dismissed!”

Star Tribune staff writers Paul Walsh, Nicole Norfleet and Emma Nelson contributed to this report.

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