MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Police say they expect criminal charges against the man suspected of killing a Mendota Heights police officer as early as Friday, and that they are not seeking any other suspects in connection with the shooting.
Court records show 39-year-old Brian George Fitch Sr. was wanted because he had left a drug treatment program and faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted on a pending drug charge.
Fitch was listed in serious condition after being shot during his arrest Wednesday night. He was captured after a manhunt that began with the fatal shooting of police officer Scott Patrick, 47, during a traffic stop in West St. Paul. Police said they still don’t know what led to the traffic stop, and say they may never know.
On Thursday afternoon, St. Paul Police Department Sgt. Paul Paulos said that immediately prior to his arrest, Fitch fired at officers first. After that, police fired back, striking Fitch a number of times.
The woman with Fitch was also struck. She was identified as 36-year-old Kelly Lee Hardy, of Maplewood.
Paulos said a handgun was recovered from Fitch’s vehicle.
Police said Fitch will face charges in two counties — in Dakota County for the death of Patrick, and also in Ramsey County for firing at officers.
Case records show Fitch was charged in Dakota County last year with possessing 47.4 grams of methamphetamine. Documents show prosecutors were seeking 30 years in prison.
One condition of Fitch’s release from jail was entering a drug treatment program. The warrant was issued June 6 after he left.
On Thursday morning, hundreds paid their respects at a candlelight vigil to honor Patrick. He was characterized as a well-known family man, a father of two, and one of the department’s longest-serving police officers.
He was killed just after noon on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue South in West St. Paul. Witnesses said Patrick’s service revolver was still in its holster.
After that, it was a long eight hours. The search for the suspect took officers to several surrounding communities, but police say tips from the public were extremely helpful in catching up with Fitch. He was arrested after a shoot-out with police near the State Capitol in St. Paul.
Fitch and his girlfriend were hit, but are expected to survive. Fitch is still being treated at Regions Hospital. It’s not known how many times police shot him. According to a tweet by St. Paul Police, Fitch is in serious condition and the woman is in fair.
Police described 39-year-old Fitch as a career criminal who had a warrant out for his arrest. His record includes convictions or arrests for theft, terroristic threats, assault, drug offenses, escaping custody and fleeing police officers. Records show he’s also been to court several times for failing to pay or provide child support to several different women.
Mendota Heights Police Chief says the department, which has just 18 sworn officers, has never lost an officer on duty.
This is the first instance of a Minnesota officer being killed in the line of duty since the 2012 death of Officer Tom Decker in Cold Spring, Minn.
A memorial fund has been set up by the police department. Donations can be made here:
Officer Scott Patrick Memorial Fund
Affinity Plus Credit Union
175 West Lafayette Frontage Rd.
St. Paul MN 55107
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