Updated: 07/31/2014 3:08 PM
Created: 07/30/2014 7:26 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
A community is mourning the loss of a Mendota Heights police officer.
Officer Scott Patrick was shot and killed near Dodd Road and Smith Avenue in West St. Paul just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Thursday morning, a group of EMTs stopped by the memorial site to pay their respects to Officer Patrick. People have been stopping by, leaving flowers, flags and candles where the shooting happened.
“I’m shocked at what’s transpired here, that a family has lost their husband, their father, and I’ve come to give my respects,” Patty Dowling said through tears.
Some of the people paying their respects didn’t know Officer Patrick but were compelled to take a moment to remember him.
“I’ve always told my kids, my family, embrace each day because you don’t know,” Antoinette Crea of West St. Paul said.
Community members held a vigil at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in a grocery store parking lot near the scene of the shooting. Hundreds of people came out to grieve together, including dozens of police officers paid their respects to their colleague.
The scene of the crime is a busy area, and there were many witnesses who rushed to call 911 after they heard the gunshots.
“I heard three shots,” one witness told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
“We immediately ran out there,” said Tony Webber, whose office is right across the street. “It was pretty obvious there wasn’t anything we could do other than dial 911. It’s such a tragedy. It affected us all.”
“A man came running toward me and said, 'A police officer has been shot,’ and that I should call 911,” another witness said, describing the moments after the shots were fired. “I saw the police officer. I saw…him lying on the street and people converging to help him out.”
Witnesses say the scene unfolded in a typically quiet neighborhood on the border of Mendota Heights and West St. Paul.
“It’s frightening to see this close to your home,” one man told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporters.
“This is a very quiet, wonderful neighborhood. It’s like living in Mayberry, really,” one community member described. “It’s a great place to live, so it’s very shocking for all of us here.”
Another woman was driving in the area when the suspect, Brian Fitch Sr., allegedly sped away from the scene. She says he nearly hit her.
“I got about two blocks down the street right here, and a car was coming straight at me. You know, in my lane, and I couldn’t turn out of the lane,” she remembered.
One woman, Kimberly Alley, tried to help Officer Patrick after another witness told her what happened.
“I asked her what was wrong, and she was saying there’s a police officer that’s just been shot, so I went around the corner thinking that maybe I could be of some help, and obviously he was very severely injured,” she described. “It’s been kind of a very stressful, scary day. It’s really too bad.”
Officer Patrick was rushed to Regions Hospital where he later died.
West St. Paul Police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the St. Paul Police Department are investigating.
Heroes Memorial Foundation has launched a public campaign on Facebook called “Lights On For Officer Scott Patrick” to be held on Friday.