WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. - St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in West St. Paul has hosted numerous funerals, but never one like this.
Thousands are expected to cram the church today and tomorrow for one final goodbye to slain Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick.
"Our church is humbled by the community and the number of people that want to be a part of this," said Dave Paton, a spokesperson for St. Stephen's Lutheran Church and the chairperson for the church's foundation.
As many as 3,000 to 5,000 mourners are expected to pay their respects to the fallen officer at Tuesday's visitation and tomorrow's funeral.
According to Paton, the church's sanctuary holds a maximum of 400 people.
Members of the church, as well as law enforcement officials with LEMA (Law Enforcement Memorial Association), have been working together to organize the events.
On Tuesday morning, multiple flower arrangements arrived to the church for Officer Patrick's visitation, as local firefighters positioned a large American flag between two fire ladder trucks in front of the church.
Paton said, he hopes the services will be an opportunity for Officer Patrick's widow and their two daughters to mourn and celebrate their loved one's life.
Paton said, "[this is all] for Michelle and the girls. Our over-arching concern is making sure that we are prepared for the best funeral and event in the worst conditions. We're doing the best we can."
Because of the crowds that are expected, the church is making as much use of their indoor and outdoor space.
Paton indicated that the church is hoping to set up outdoor tents and large screens on Wednesday so that mourners can see the funeral from outside.
According to Paton, due to limited financial resources, the church is accepting any donations or resources to help accommodate the crowds tomorrow.
To contact St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, the church is located on 1575 Charlton Street in West St. Paul. You can also contact the church at 651-457-6541.