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

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

He served a total of less than a year for that offense. When he failed to show up for a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion hear­ing on June 26, a war­rant was is­sued for his ar­rest.

A third war­rant stems from Fitch’s fail­ure to show for a court hear­ing on charges dat­ing to Jan­u­ar­y 2013, when he al­leg­ed­ly was caught with a large a­mount of meth­am­phet­a­mine.

Scat­tered a­mong those felon­ies are 22 less­er crimes dat­ing from 1985 to 2012 that in­clude tamp­er­ing with an auto, driv­ing af­ter rev­o­ca­tion, auto theft, flee­ing po­lice, pet­ty theft and ob­struc­tion.

Of­fi­cials couldn’t say Thurs­day why Fitch wasn’t in­car­cer­at­ed at the time Patrick was shot. Al­though he had been one of the sub­jects of the Department of Cor­rec­tion’s spe­cial in­ves­ti­gat­ions, which works with local and state law en­force­ment ag­en­cies to ap­pre­hend fugi­tives, since June, he ap­par­ent­ly had flown un­der law en­force­ment’s ra­dar.

Hand­gun in ve­hi­cle

Patrick was shot to death about 12:20 p.m. Wednes­day on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue S. in West St. Paul. The of­fi­cer, alone in his squad car, was mak­ing a rou­tine traf­fic stop when he was killed, West St. Paul po­lice Lt. Brian Stur­geon said.

Act­ing on a tip, po­lice en­count­ered Fitch and a woman later iden­ti­fied as Kelly Lee Har­dy, 36, of Maplewood, on E. Syca­more Street in St. Paul about eight hours later.

Fitch was seen leav­ing the area in an SUV-type ve­hi­cle, said St. Paul po­lice Sgt. Paul Paulos.

As po­lice moved in to stop him, they say Fitch point­ed a hand­gun and fired sev­er­al rounds at of­fic­ers, who fired back, strik­ing Fitch sev­er­al times.

Police later found a hand­gun in the SUV that Fitch was driv­ing. Auth­ori­ties have sent the gun to the state Bureau of Crim­i­nal Apprehension for test­ing to de­ter­mine whether it was used to kill Patrick.

“This was re­al­ly a trau­ma­tic day,” Paulos said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day. “We could have lost a lot more guys, but we didn’t.”

Paulos iden­ti­fied the of­fic­ers who fired at Fitch as Erik Johnson, a 13-year vet­er­an of the St. Paul force, and Tim­o­thy Bohn, a 16-year vet­er­an. A Minneapolis of­fi­cer and two oth­er St. Paul of­fic­ers are i­den­ti­ty-pro­tect­ed be­cause they are work­ing in an under­cover as­sign­ment. All the of­fic­ers are on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave, which is stan­dard pro­ce­dure af­ter a shoot­ing.

Auth­ori­ties also said Thurs­day that Fitch was in se­ri­ous con­di­tion at Re­gions Hospital. Har­dy, who also was shot but not in cus­to­dy, was list­ed in fair con­di­tion at Re­gions with noncritical in­ju­ries.

Har­dy’s role “is un­de­ter­mined,” Paulos said. “She is pos­si­bly a wit­ness in this mat­ter.”

Mean­while, West St. Paul’s Stur­geon con­firmed at the news con­fer­ence that a man pur­sued by of­fic­ers on In­ter­state 494 into Woodbury on Wednes­day af­ter­noon in the hours af­ter the shoot­ing of Patrick had no con­nec­tion to the case.

“This in­di­vid­u­al was driv­ing a very sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle,” Stur­geon said. “He made an ir­ra­tion­al move in front of law en­force­ment, which start­ed the pur­suit. He made a bad de­ci­sion on a bad day.”

Services pend­ing

While auth­ori­ties con­tinued to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Patrick’s death, his fam­i­ly planned for a fu­ner­al.

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