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Continued: Fitch charged in shooting death of Mendota Heights police officer

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 2, 2014 - 2:29 PM

“This is why officers are so cautious when they approach a vehicle, even on a so-called routine stop,” Bellows said.

Fitch fled the scene in a Pontiac Grand Am as passersby ran to Patrick’s aid, using the officer’s portable radio to sound the alarm, “officer down,” the charges said.

Officers traced the Grand Am to a Mendota Heights address, where a woman said she had recently sold the car to Fitch. She told police that he had been living at her home and left Wednesday at 11 a.m. Police eventually found the Grand Am covered with a tarp in the yard of a home on S. Robert Street in St. Paul.

Officers spoke with a man and woman at that residence who told them that Fitch arrived there shortly after 12:20 p.m. Fitch asked the man to hide his Grand Am in the garage and tried to buy the woman’s SUV, a blue Hyundai Veracruz, the charges said.

“Defendant stated that he needed another vehicle because he did not want to be recognized in the Grand Am,” the complaint said.

The woman refused to sell her SUV, but agreed to lend it to Fitch, the charges said.

Later that evening, two informants told police that Fitch was in St. Paul’s North End, near Rice and Sycamore streets. Responding officers spotted Fitch. A brief chase ensued before the SUV was stopped. According to the complaint, that’s when Fitch fired a handgun at police, who returned fire.

Charges filed in Ramsey County gave this account of that standoff: Officers were tipped that Fitch was at a house on Sycamore Street. When they arrived, they saw the SUV parked at the home. Fitch fled in the SUV.

Police pursued Fitch to a parking lot about a block away. Fitch sped and swerved in the lot, stopping in the corner near a building. That’s when he fired at officers, charges said.

“[Fitch] made no signs of wanting to give up or surrender,” the charges said. “He was ducking down and coming up repeatedly while he was firing.”

Court documents show that before the gunfire, a man jumped out of the SUV’s front passenger seat and ran with his hands in the air. Officers fired at Fitch and stopped when they realized that a woman, Kelly Lee Hardy, was in the SUV. Hardy suffered gunshot wounds to her left elbow and left leg.

“She fell out of the vehicle,” the Ramsey County charges said. “She told officers that [Fitch] would not voluntarily exit the vehicle.”

Police used an armored Bearcat vehicle for protection as they arrested Fitch.

A 9mm Smith and Wesson was found on the floor of the SUV. It had been reported stolen from Eden Prairie. Auth­ori­ties later sent the gun to the state Bureau of Crim­i­nal Apprehension for test­ing to de­ter­mine whether it was used to kill Patrick.

In an interview with police, Fitch’s male passenger said that Fitch and Hardy arrived at the Sycamore Street home about 5 to 6 p.m. The man said Fitch took a gun out of a bag and placed it in his waistband.

Fitch told the man that if anyone asked about his whereabouts, he should say that Fitch had gone to Canada. Fitch threatened to kill the man if he didn’t follow those directions, the complaint said.

The man told police that Fitch pulled the handgun out of his waistband and placed it on his lap when he saw a black police car pull up behind the SUV. The man said that he jumped out of the car when Fitch turned into the parking lot and raised the gun in his right hand, the complaint said.

Patrick, 47, started working for the city of Mendota Heights in 1995. He is the first officer from the city to be killed in the line of duty.

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