MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – A 39-year-old “career criminal” and the prime suspect in the shooting of the Mendota Heights police officer was formally charged Friday afternoon with a dozen criminal counts.
Brian Fitch Sr. faces charges of first-degree murder of a peace officer and first-degree premeditated murder in Dakota County.
In Ramsey County, Fitch has been charged with three counts of attempting to commit murder of a peace officer, three counts of drive by shooting with a dangerous weapon, three counts of second-degree assault and one count of possessing an assault weapon.
Police say that Fitch shot 47-year-old Officer Scott Patrick, a 19-year veteran of the Mendota Heights Police Department, on Wednesday afternoon during a routine traffic stop.
“Several persons ran to officer Patrick and tried to administer first aid while another witness used his own radio to alert officer down,” Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom said.
Patrick died shortly after at Regions Hospital.
According to the complaint, Fitch bought the vehicle he was in at the time of the shooting — a green Pontiac Grand Am — from a woman in Mendota Heights, at whose home he was currently living.
Officers later found the Grand Am at a house in St. Paul covered by a tarp. The people living there said that Fitch arrived and asked them to hide the car. He asked to buy their SUV. They refused but let him borrow it anyway. One of those residents covered the Grand Am with a tarp.
That evening, confidential informants told police that Fitch was at a location near Rice and Sycamore. A number of police officers arrived at the scene and became involved in a standoff with Fitch, who was holed up inside a Hyundai Veracruz with another woman, later identified as 36-year-old Kelly Lee Hardy. Police said Fitch fired several rounds at officers, and they returned fire.
Fitch and Hardy were struck during the shootout and were taken to Regions Hospital, where he was arrested.
Fitch was shot eight times by police — in the leg, abdomen and head — and is due to undergo abdominal surgery. Court documents say Fitch is scheduled for surgery at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Regions Hospital. The documents say he’s medicated and will be in the hospital for at least a week.
While under watch by a St. Paul Police officer, sources told WCCO, Fitch looked directly at the officer and said, “Just to let you know, I hate cops and I’m guilty.”
He is being guarded by law enforcement.
“This defendant has a history of violence hatred towards police and would do anything, including murder, to evade capture,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.
Police have described Fitch as a “career criminal.” He was wanted by police because he had left a drug treatment program and was facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted on a pending drug charge.
A handgun, pistol and a large amount of meth were found inside the SUV after the shootout.
Funeral arrangements for Patrick have been made for Aug. 6.
“Patrick had a strong passion to protect the community and did so with honor and distinction,” Backstrom said. “He often had a smile on face and was quick to step up and to help other officers in community above and beyond patrol of duties.”
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