Scott Patrick was more than a cop, more than officer No. 2231.
He was one of those kids in the herd of neighborhood kids who stomped the grass to dirt in the back yard down the block. He was the clever high schooler who created a “job application,” complete with references, to persuade a shy, pretty girl with a nice smile to go on a date.
He was the “regular guy” who nonetheless could draw up his own blueprints, remaking his parents’ lake place — and designing his own home. And he was the little brother who was so levelheaded, so stable, so full of common sense that a sibling 10 years his senior not only relied on his advice, but cherished his friendship.
So, while thousands on Wednesday will mourn the loss of a veteran and affable police officer, the family and friends of Scott Patrick have lost so much more.
“Scott was an anchor, a central focus point for our family,” said Mike Brue, one of 11 boys in a blended family that lived near Charlton and Baker streets on the West Side of St. Paul. “Before this — and still — he’s really the better man. He was imperfectly perfect.”
Patrick, 47, was shot and killed July 30 while making a traffic stop near Dodd Road and Smith Avenue in West St. Paul.
A career criminal with a warrant for his arrest is accused of shooting the 19-year veteran of the Mendota Heights department as Patrick approached the rear of the suspect’s car.
A big, blended family
His colleagues have described him as easygoing, laid-back, a cop who could set anyone’s mind at ease with a quick and genuine smile. But long before he became a peace officer, Patrick learned how to make his way in a crowded and loud home.
Richard and Patricia Patrick married in 1966. It was the second marriage for each. Patricia had been divorced and had two boys; Richard was a widower with seven sons of his own. Together, they added another couple of boys — Scott Patrick coming along in January 1967.
The Patricks had a full and busy house on a block of full and busy houses, said Gene and Rita Marquardt, who lived nearby.
“There must have been 40 to 50 kids just on our block,” Rita said.
Said Gene: “One day, I counted 24 in our yard alone. And we had no pool. We had no grass, either.”
Rita Marquardt said she remembers the family “as a bunch of kids, a whole lot of boys, in the neighborhood. But they were good kids.”
Scott Patrick, like many of his older brothers, went to St. Paul Humboldt High School. It was there that he met a shy girl named Michelle Peterson. That was where he came up with the idea of the application, Mike Brue said.
“When he sets his mind to do something, he’s creative.”
And it was there, while volunteering with the St. Paul Police Reserves, that he got the idea of becoming a police officer.
Michelle and Scott dated in their junior and senior years and graduated from Humboldt in 1985. Scott Patrick completed his associate degree at Alexandria Community College in 1987, and the couple married in June 1988.
They wed at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in West St. Paul — the church where his funeral will be held Wednesday. It’s just a few miles south of the home where Patrick grew up.
“There is a connection to all of this,” Mike Brue said, sitting on a bench outside the church Tuesday.
Patrick’s first police job was at the Minnesota State Fair. He went on to work a few years with the Shakopee Police Department before joining the Mendota Heights department. On the day he died, Scott Patrick was Mendota Heights’ most senior officer.
Over the years, Scott and Michelle Patrick fixed up an old house in Mendota Heights. Had two daughters — Erin and Amy. Built a bigger house. Raised their girls to teenagers. And enjoyed life.
A marriage of fun and family
They were a fun and fun-loving couple, said Kelly Robichon, a bowling partner of Michelle’s who remembers Halloween costume parties and lots of laughter.
“One year that I remember, Scott dressed up as a doctor … a lady doctor, if you know what I mean,” Robichon said, smiling at the memory of her friend as a faux gynecologist.
Family and friends say the couple were best friends, partners who complemented each other perfectly. He was gregarious, quick-witted. She was a quiet and calm presence. They were frugal, working to ensure they would provide a solid future for their children, Mike Brue said.
Family was paramount. After Patricia Patrick died in 2007, Scott Patrick took responsibility for the care of his dad, who is 89 and an amputee.
During visitation at St. Stephen’s on Tuesday, a slide show showed happy images of Patrick’s family life: he and Michelle walking down the aisle, Patrick snuggling with his girls, Patrick knocking out a plaster and lathe wall, the family dressed up in pirate costumes.
While Scott was busy with work and projects — he enjoyed drafting — he would drop whatever he was doing if family needed him. Such as when Mike Brue’s wife died of cancer in 2006.
“Scott and Michelle were so supportive,” Brue said, choking up at the memory. “They opened their home to me.”
That older brother and younger brother stayed so close over the years and distance — Mike Brue lives in Alvarado, Minn., and works in Grand Forks — says much about the quality of their friendship. They would see each other eight to 12 times a year, Brue said. They visited at a Twins game the weekend before Patrick was killed.
Brue said Patrick approached police work like he approached life — with common sense and compassion.
“Scott would try to set people at ease. Sometimes, when he pulled somebody over, he would tell them: ‘It’s OK. I’m not going to give you a ticket.’ Other times, if he stopped someone for speeding and they had a little girl in the car, he’d say: ‘You really should set a good example for your daughter.’ ”
In the crush of the past few days, as thousands of uniformed peace officers descend on a small church on Charlton Avenue, Brue admits he’s at a loss regarding what comes next. He knows he already misses his brother, his friend.
“He was in many ways a pretty regular guy,” Brue said, smiling. “But he was extraordinary in pretty normal ways.”