By Kelly Smith and Libor Jany
MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — In the hours after Mendota Heights officer Scott Patrick was killed Wednesday, tributes poured in from across Minnesota from fellow police officers and the many strangers he helped.
They remembered Patrick, 47, not just for his decades of law enforcement service, but his determination to go above and beyond in no situation too small — whether it was to banter with employees at a Mendota Heights gas station he often stopped in or the 17-year-old he visited in the hospital days after she was hit by a car.
"He was just that kind of guy," one wrote online.
On Wednesday, Patrick gave the ultimate sacrifice, shot in what began as a routine traffic stop in West St. Paul. He was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died. It was the small suburban police department's first officer killed in the line of duty.
"He was a family man," Chief Mike Aschenbrener said. "He absolutely adored his children. He also cared deeply about the city of Mendota Heights."
Patrick was an officer in Shakopee from 1992 to 1995, then joined Mendota Heights in 1995, becoming the department's most senior member.
Online, one by one, police officers, friends and strangers changed their profiles to a black image with a blue line struck through the middle, representing the Thin Blue Line commemorating fallen officers. And in West St. Paul, several hundred mourners paid their respects near where Patrick was gunned down just hours before. Near a growing memorial of flowers and candles, people paused to hug Patrick's sister-in-law and several family members before breaking out in "Amazing Grace."
Patrick was a distant relative of Debbie Thul of West St. Paul, and would stop in the furniture store where she worked to chat. "He was a jolly guy," she said.
Online, people who met Patrick recalled similar small gestures that made big impacts -- the Holiday station employee who recalled his contagious laugh, the Brown College security officer surprised an officer would stop to talk to a security guard. And Adreon Morgan, who couldn't forget the kind officer who, six years ago, was at the scene when she was hit by a car. Days later, he visited her in the hospital.
"He was really helpful and superdetermined," she said. "You could tell he's a father figure because he was so calm and made me feel comfortable."
Patrick is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two teenage daughters.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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