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