Capture of Man Accused of Killing Mendota Heights Officer Caught on Video

Updated: 08/01/2014 9:37 PM
Created: 07/31/2014 6:13 AM
By: Tim Sherno

A man arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Mendota Heights officer is expected to be formally charged Friday by the Dakota County Attorney.

A daylong manhunt ended Wednesday with the arrest of 39-year-old Brian Fitch Sr. He's suspected in the killing of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, who was fatally shot while making a traffic stop in West St. Paul around 12:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Police arrested Fitch after a shootout Wednesday night. He was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he is in serious condition, according to St. Paul Police. The woman in the car with Fitch has been identified as 36-year-old Kelly Lee Hardy of Maplewood, and she's in fair condition.  

"This was really a traumatic day," St. Paul Police Spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos said. "We could have lost a lot more guys, but we didn't."

St. Paul Police say they received a tip Wednesday night that Fitch may be in the area of Rice and Sycamore Streets in St. Paul. Officers responded to the area and spotted Fitch driving.

Authorities say Fitch recognized one of the unmarked squad cars and made a U-turn, but one of the squad cars was able to pull in front of Fitch's car to stop him. Sgt. Paulos says one of the officers got out of his squad with his weapon drawn. Fitch got out of his vehicle and was the first to start firing at officers; police returned fire, striking Fitch and Hardy.

Investigators on scene did not find where the shots Fitch fired hit.

St. Paul Police found the handgun they believe Fitch used to shoot at officers inside the car he was driving.

Fitch has an extensive criminal record; authorities say he is a career criminal who got out of prison in February on supervised release for a burglary conviction and was already a wanted fugitive again on a Department of Corrections warrant.         

Police say Fitch had been living in the South St. Paul and West St. Paul area.

St. Paul Police say Hardy is not in custody, and there is not a third person in custody. They say they questioned a lot of people Wednesday during the search for Fitch, which is why there may have been some reports of three arrests. Authorities say they are not looking for any additional suspects but say this is a fluid investigation.

Patrick was the first Mendota Height's police officer to be slain in the line of duty.

Caught on Cellphone Video

An eyewitness used their cellphone to capture video of the minutes leading up to the final apprehension of Fitch.

The witness was standing in an alley behind homes on the northern side of West Sycamore Street. In one video, nearly six minutes long, police can be heard calling to suspect over a loudspeaker, "Brian open the door, come on out Brian."

As a SWAT Team was moving in, an officer can be heard yelling, "Drop your weapon! Drop your weapon!" Moments later, a SWAT tactical vehicle moved in, and Fitch was removed and arrested. An officer's voice can be heard, "I got a handgun."

Unrelated Chase

Partway through the manhunt for Fitch, a vehicle led police on a chase in Woodbury. The car looked similar to the suspect vehicle connected to Patrick’s death, but authorities now say the cases are not related.

Because law enforcement personnel were already on high alert, the chase drew a huge response.

"This individual was driving a very similar vehicle," said West St. Paul Police Lt. Brian Sturgeon. "He made kind of an irrational move in front of law enforcement, which started the pursuit. He made a bad decision on a bad day."

The driver led law enforcement on a chase on Interstate 494, swerving around other vehicles and driving on the shoulder. Authorities eventually caught up to the driver and hit the car, forcing it to spin out. Officers got out of their squad cars and surrounded the car with guns drawn. Eventually, they opened the driver's side door and sent in a K-9.

Officers were able to drag the driver out of the car, force him down on the ground and handcuff him.

Authorities have not released other details surrounding this chase and arrest.

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