Suspect wounded, arrested after Mendota Heights officer killed

Mendota Heights officer Scott Patrick was killed during what began as a routine traffic stop.

A 39-year-old career criminal suspected of killing a Mendota Heights police officer was shot and wounded by police late Wednesday after he fired on officers in St. Paul.

An unidentified woman with the suspect also was shot and wounded by police in the culmination of an intense eight-hour search.

The drama began when officer Scott Thomas Patrick, 47, a father of two from Mendota Heights, was shot to death about 12:20 p.m. on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue S. in West St. Paul. Patrick, who was alone in his squad car, was making “a routine traffic stop” when he was killed, West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon said it was not known if there was a struggle before the officer was shot.

An intensive search immediately began for Brian G. Fitch Sr., whose green Pontiac Grand Am was seen speeding away from the fallen officer.

As the manhunt grew, there were periods of confusion about whether Fitch had been found.

Early on, police surrounded a house on Pond Circle W. in Mendota Heights. Sturgeon would say only that it was one of many houses “affiliated” with the investigation. Later, a house at S. Robert and E. Morton streets on St. Paul’s West Side also was the focus of police activity.

In the afternoon, police began chasing a green car, drawing extensive coverage from television station helicopters. That chase ended in Woodbury, where the driver was pulled from the car. But authorities later said that incident had no connection to the officer’s shooting.

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.

The woman who was shot and wounded was with Fitch in the car. Both were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Police said that Fitch’s condition was uncertain late Wednesday, but that the female was expected to survive. Her identity and relationship to Fitch were not released.

Mourning widespread

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 a family man,” Aschenbrener said at a news conference Wednesday. “He absolutely adored his children. He cared deeply for the city of Mendota Heights. It’s going to be a very tough time for the Mendota Heights Police Department.”

Flags at Mendota Heights City Hall were lowered to half-staff to honor Patrick, and his fellow officers wore black bands across their badges.

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