January 29, 1961 – July 7, 1991
Tpr. Kermit Fitzpatrick was shot to death during a traffic stop on the Jeffries Freeway in Detroit.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 7, 1991, Trooper Fitzpatrick stopped a 1982 Blue Ford Mustang for a routine traffic violation on the westbound Jeffries Freeway (I-96) near Joy Road in Detroit. After using his patrol car PA system to direct the Mustang’s driver to a safe position on the freeway shoulder, Trooper Fitzpatrick left his patrol car and approached the driver to make contact. Just as Trooper Fitzpatrick took a position standing either just behind or next to the driver’s door, the driver raised a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol and fired six (6) rapid shots. One shot hit Trooper Fitzpatrick’s jaw, two bullets entered his left upper chest, and one hit his right leg above the knee. His bullet-proof vest stopped the other two shots.
The suspect fled the scene, and passers-by attended to Trooper Fitzpatrick. Detroit police officers transported him to Henry Ford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:53 a.m.
The Detroit police Homicide Squad, assisted by State Police detectives, quickly developed a suspect—Steven Darius McGuire, age 20, of Royal Oak, Michigan. Investigators learned that McGuire had taken the Mustang from his mother without permission, and that he had stolen the .22 pistol and other guns when he burglarized a neighbor’s house.
After the shooting, McGuire drove to Hillsdale County, where he abandoned the Mustang and stole another car at gunpoint. He then drove to Napolean, Ohio, where he ran out of gas. After a motorist picked him up hitchhiking, McGuire tried to rob him, and fired several shots during a scuffle inside the car. Both men then ran from the car. Henry County sheriff’s deputies arrested McGuire in a nearby field soon after this incident. Their department also obtained a confession from McGuire regarding the murder of Trooper Fitzpatrick, and recovered the murder weapon.
McGuire eventually waived extradition proceedings in Ohio, and was transferred to the Wayne County Jail in Detroit. McGuire was convicted on counts of First Degree Murder and Felony Firearms violations in Wayne County Circuit Court in December, 1991. He was sentenced to life in prison in solitary confinement and at hard labor with no possibility of parole by Judge Leonard Townsend on January 6, 1992.
Trooper Fitzpatrick was the 41st MSP officer to die in the line of duty.