The corner of Dodd and Smith was the first place Mike Brue had to stop upon returning home.
Not the old neighborhood near Baker playground, on St. Paul’s West Side. Not the cafe where he and his brother, Scott Patrick, often shared a breakfast when Brue came to town.
On Thursday, a day after Patrick, a 47-year-old Mendota Heights police officer, was fatally shot while making a traffic stop, Brue had to see where his brother fell.
What he found there around 12:30 p.m., 24 hours after the shooting, was a community’s outpouring of love. Of respect. Of gratitude. At a makeshift memorial that grew larger with each candle, note, balloon and flower left behind, Brue saw the impact his brother’s death had on so many.
“I thought it would help me a little bit, help me understand,” Brue said. “I wanted to go by, to see. But, to be frank, I’m still trying to absorb it, the simplicity of it. But I see the symbolism.”
What he saw, he said, is a community coming to grips with the loss of one of its own.
“I think they understand the frailty of it all,” he said. “That someone can take life in an instant.”
By all accounts, it was a good life. Lived by a good man.
At the Capital View Cafe a few blocks north of the memorial on Smith Avenue, owner Glen Lucken fought back tears. Patrick “was in here all the time, smiling, laughing. He was a good customer, just a great, good, cool guy.”
Lucken attended the candlelight vigil for Patrick Wednesday night, as did hundreds of others.
“I broke down,” he said, barely keeping the tears from returning as he spoke. “You just always saw him in the community.”
Shannon Bauer, a longtime waitress at the Capital View, said Patrick recently had a long conversation with her daughter Izzy about attending St. Cloud State University. Patrick’s oldest daughter graduated from high school a couple of months ago, and he wanted to know about the college. His youngest daughter is about to start ninth grade.
“I talked to my daughter last night,” Bauer said. “I said to her: ‘Izzy, you know, we’re blessed. We’re blessed that Scott was in our life.’ ”
Dan Stoven stopped by the memorial site Thursday. Six years ago, after his house burned down, the Mendota Heights man said Patrick would visit regularly.
“We’d just chat for a while. Scott would usually tell me to move a pile of garbage that people were complaining about,” Stoven said, laughing. “He was a very kind person. Laid back. You wouldn’t even think he was a police officer.
“Scott will be missed,” he said, his smile disappearing. “I’ll miss him.”
They came all day
Throughout the day Thursday, people stopped near the corner of Dodd Road and Smith Avenue to pay respects. Some left balloons. Others flowers; candles, too.