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Thousands attend funeral, procession for slain Mendota Heights officer
From the twinkle in his eye as he kidded co-workers to the way he glowed as he talked about his family, Scott Patrick was known to light up a room.
During the funeral Wednesday for the veteran Mendota Heights officer who was gunned down July 30, speakers focused on remembering that light: the father, husband, brother and friend who lived for his wife and daughters, and the dedicated officer who worked to keep the community safe in a job “fraught with danger,” as Mendota Heights police chief Mike Aschenbrener put it.
The 47-year-old grew up on St. Paul’s West Side. He graduated from Humboldt High School, earned a degree at Alexandria Community College, and got his start in law enforcement in Shakopee.
Patrick had been with the Mendota Heights Police Department since 1995, and worked mainly during the day as a patrol officer.
Speaking in front of a crowd of family, fellow officers and community leaders, including Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Rep. John Kline and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, officer Robert Lambert tried to imagine what Patrick would say about the estimated 5,000 people gathered at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, the bagpipes blaring outside earlier and the 8-mile procession afterwards — “a hero’s tribute.” A video feed projected the service on a large screen outside the church, where the majority of the 4,000 law enforcement personnel sat and stood.
“I can see him now, if he was here, he’d put his arm around me, and he would have a smirk on his face, a twinkle in his eye, he’d say, ‘Hey, not bad for a Humboldt grad, huh, cadet?’” Lambert said.
His voice breaking, he added, “I will miss my brother. Scott, I love you. We love you. Rest now; we’ll take your watch from here.”
Officer John Larrive addressed God, warmly reminiscing about the man with too many yellow legal pads who left paper clips around the office and constantly clicked his pen.
“Please watch over Scott, and do him one favor, because he sure as hell deserves it: Point him in the direction of the best restaurant in heaven, with half-price margaritas on Mondays,” he said, crumpling his notes as Lambert put his hands on his shoulders to comfort him.
Accompanying himself on guitar during the service, Minnesota musician Tim Mahoney performed a tune sung at Patrick’s wedding at the same church: “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and led the congregation in singing “Amazing Grace.”
St. Stephen’s associate pastor, the Rev. Cassie Nault, pointed to the spontaneity and the generosity of the community’s response. Since the officer’s death, a man dutifully kept lit the candles at the memorial along Dodd Road near Smith Avenue where Patrick was shot, a child raised thousands of dollars for the family through a lemonade stand and strangers donated tens of thousands more to help support his wife and two daughters.
“All of that light is shining toward you, Michelle, Erin, Amy and the Patrick family,” Nault said. “We have gathered together and surrounded this family with light, casting out that darkness. Today, we focus on the light.”
After watching hundreds of public safety vehicles from departments as farflung as Illinois and Canada in the first wave of the funeral procession that departed from the West St. Paul church, community members waited in the afternoon sun. Even as the sunburn set in, the empty plastic water bottles stacked up and what became a dense strip of flashing lights disappeared down Charlton Street, they waited.
They waited to raise flags, wave blue roses and place their hands over their hearts as the hearse carrying Patrick’s flag-draped casket drove by, followed by a limousine transporting his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Erin and Amy.
One West Side resident, also a mother of two daughters, said she came “to show the officer was respected,” as she held a flag and her youngest, 1-year-old Anelli.
Some said “Thank you” or “God bless you” as the hearse passed. Those in uniform saluted, while youngsters waved or held up handmade signs: “R.I.P. officer Patrick.” A white-haired woman brought by her family stood with one hand balancing herself on a cane, the other holding a flag high.
The two waves of the procession traveled along Butler Avenue, then Delaware, and then wound down Dodd Road, ending at Acacia Park Cemetery in Mendota Heights.
Finally, the chilling “last call” reverberated around the cemetery: “All units, badge 2231 is out of service. End of watch, July 30, 2014. Mendota Heights Police Department badge 2231 is 10-7.”
Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.
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Charges for alleged killer
The West St. Paul Police Department has spent uncounted hours of overtime investigating the murder of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.
It’s not the first time the investigators have spent more than 24 or 36 hours straight working a case, according to West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon.
“It’s been very draining, but we’re getting through it,” Sturgeon said. “We can handle it.
“Whatever resources it takes to get the job done, we’ll make it happen.”
Thanks to an investigation led by local police and the St. Paul Police Department, suspect Brian George Fitch Sr., 39, who is still hospitalized after being injured in a shootout with police prior to his arrest, is now facing two second-degree murder charges and three attempted murder charges. The murder charges are for allegedly killing Patrick, 47, after Patrick apparently tried to pull him over on a routine traffic stop. The attempted murder charges are for shooting at three St. Paul police officers who chased him after receiving a tip that he was at a house along the 30 block of East Sycamore Street around 8 p.m. July 30 during a several-hour multi-agency manhunt.
According to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, if he is convicted, Fitch faces mandatory life in prison without parole for the murder charges, and 20 years for each attempted murder charge.
The case is expected to go to a multi-county grand jury.
The complaint said that during the shootout, Fitch, who has a criminal record filled with violence- and drug-related charges and convictions, “made no signs of wanting to give up or surrender. He was ducking down and coming up repeatedly” while firing a 9 mm handgun at police.
Even lying wounded at Regions Hospital, he didn’t back down.
He told the officer posted to guard him, “Just to let you know, I hate cops and I’m guilty,” the complaint stated.