Suspect in police shooting knew he was likely headed back to prison

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2014 - 12:17 PM

Brian G. Fitch Sr., a ca­reer crim­i­nal, was al­read­y want­ed by auth­ori­ties be­fore he was shot by po­lice and arrested in the kill­ing of a Mendota Heights of­fi­cer.

Brian G. Fitch Sr. knew he was head­ed back to jail — and most­ly like­ly to pris­on — if he was ever stopped for even a mi­nor traf­fic in­frac­tion and po­lice fig­ured out his i­den­ti­ty.

Short­ly af­ter noon Wednes­day, when a Mendota Heights po­lice of­fi­cer stopped Fitch as he drove through West St. Paul, he had three ac­tive war­rants for his ar­rest: One stem­ming from a con­vic­tion for a vi­o­lent home bur­gla­ry, one from a con­vic­tion for ter­ror­is­tic threats and as­sault and an­oth­er from June, when he failed to ap­pear at a court hear­ing on first-de­gree drug charges.

Now, in the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing death Wednes­day of Scott Patrick, the of­fi­cer who stopped him, Fitch, a 39-year-old ca­reer crim­i­nal, will be facing new charges in both Dakota and Ramsey coun­ties.

Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi plan to hold a joint news con­fer­ence at 2 p.m. Fri­day in Dakota County to an­nounce charges against Fitch in Patrick’s death and for his alleged shoot­out with of­fic­ers in St. Paul Wednes­day night in the min­utes be­fore his cap­ture. The news conference will be held at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul.

The shoot­ing of Patrick, 47, and the gun­fight with po­lice hours later, are the lat­est in a se­ries of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Fitch that date back 15 years and in­clude ev­er­y­thing from as­sault and ter­ror­ist threats to kid­nap­ping, court re­cords show.

The state Department of Cor­rec­tions said Thurs­day that Fitch served al­most three years in pris­on, from 2000 to 2003, for a 1999 as­sault con­vic­tion. Sar­ah Latuseck, a cor­rec­tions spokes­wom­an, said that in 2000, Fitch was con­victed of es­cape. De­tails of those charges were not avail­able Thurs­day.

Washington County Sher­iff Bill Hut­ton was an Oakdale po­lice cap­tain when he arrested Fitch in Au­gust 2003 af­ter a home in­va­sion in that city. “I just re­mem­ber it be­ing a very ag­gres­sive call, very vi­o­lent,” Hut­ton said Thurs­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint, Fitch and an­oth­er man and a woman burst into the home at 3:40 a.m. as the woman who owned the home slept in her bed­room. Her three chil­dren were asleep on the liv­ing room floor.

An­oth­er man was also in the home and still awake. Fitch, hold­ing a knife, ordered the man to open a safe. Fitch rip­ped two neck­lac­es from the man’s neck and beat him.

In 2004, Fitch was con­victed of first-de­gree bur­gla­ry and giv­en a stayed 41-month pris­on sen­tence in con­nec­tion with the crime.

Over the next 10 years, he served about 20 months in cus­to­dy that was ap­plied to that sen­tence.

He com­mit­ted pro­ba­tion vio­la­tions in 2010 and 2011, but it wasn’t un­til June 2013 that he was sent to pris­on.

He was re­leased to Dakota County on an un­re­solved first-de­gree drug case on Feb. 5, 2014, and sent to a resi­den­tial treat­ment cen­ter later that month.

Latuseck said Thurs­day that Fitch was still on super­vised re­lease from the state Department of Cor­rec­tions in June, when he vio­lat­ed con­di­tions of his re­lease. A war­rant was is­sued June 2 for his ar­rest. Fitch was a fugi­tive un­til po­lice arrested him Wednes­day night.

More war­rants

The se­cond war­rant is­sued dates to a vi­o­lent in­ci­dent in 2012 in West St. Paul, where Fitch kid­nap­ped a man at knife point and beat him af­ter ac­cus­ing him of hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with his girl­friend. Fitch threat­ened to cut the man’s throat from ear to ear, then stripped him of his clothes and mon­ey and left him on the West Side of St. Paul, court re­cords said.

He was charged with ter­ror­is­tic threats, as­sault and false im­pris­on­ment. He pleaded guil­ty to ter­ror­is­tic threats and fifth-de­gree as­sault and was giv­en a stayed 36-month pris­on sen­tence.

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