WEST SAINT PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Agencies just wrapped up a joint briefing to detail both the officer shooting and the apprehension of the man they say was responsible.
They’re also expressing relief that more officers weren’t gunned down.
“We are confident based on a number of factors that Mr. Fitch is our suspect,” Lt. Brian Sturgeon said at a press conference earlier.
Under police guard at Regions Hospital, Brian Fitch Sr. and a female companion are recovering from the gunshots that brought a tragic day to violent end.
“Suspect is in custody and we are not looking for any additional suspects,” Sturgeon said.
Officer Scott Patrick was making a routine traffic stop near Dodd Road and Smith Avenue when he was felled by gunshots.
Investigators say it’s unclear why Fitch, wanted under a felony warrant, was being stopped.
“At this point we do not know what that initial reason for the stop was, and to be honest with you we may never know,” Sturgeon said.
A dramatic chase of a vehicle matching the gunman’s getaway car was unrelated, but hours later, police found the car they were looking for. It was abandoned.
Finally, a public tip led them to a neighborhood where Fitch and a woman, Kelly Lee Hardy, were driving an SUV.
Unable to escape, he got out and opened fire.
Officers returned fire, striking.
And a dangerous pursuit was finally over.
“This was really a traumatic day. We could have lost a lot more guys, but we didn’t,” Sergeant Paul Paulos said.
Police did recover a handgun from the vehicle when they arrested Fitch.
Ballistics tests will help determine if it was also the gun used to kill Officer Patrick.
They made it pretty clear they detained some for questioning, but they believe Fitch Sr. acted alone and is the only one they arrested.
He will be formally charged Friday.