Melissa J. Schmidt
OFFICER MELLISA J. SCHMIDT
Appointed March 25, 1996
Died August 1, 2002
Minneapolis Police Department Officer Melissa J. Schmidt’s life was cut short when she was 35. She was only the second female police officer in the city to be killed while on duty.Schmidt, who had been with the department for six years, loved being a police officer. The call involved a public housing tenant, and Schmidt patrolled public housing units for the department and cared very much about the residents and their safety. The night was Thursday, August 1, 2002. Schmidt and Officer Tammy Friestleben, encountered Martha Donald, 60, at the Horn Terrace and Tower public housing complex in the Lyndale neighborhood in south Minneapolis. A member of Donald’s family had placed a 911 call, expressing concern that she had a gun and was headed for home at Horn Terrace.
Donald allowed the officers to search her vehicle and pat her down. They found bullets in her purse but no weapon. Donald asked to use the restroom, and Schmidt and Friestleben escorted her to the first-floor restroom in Horn Terrace.
While Schmidt and Friestleben waited outside the stalls, Donald lunged from her stall, firing with a gun she’d concealed between her buttocks. Although Schmidt was wearing a bulletproof vest, she was shot in the abdomen below her vest. Officer Schmidt returned fire, fatally wounding Donald. Officer Schmidt then held her position until other officers arrived on the scene.
Schmidt died after surgery at Hennepin County Medical Center later that night.
Schmidt was buried in her hometown of Bloomer, Wis., 115 miles east of the Twin Cities. More than 800 police officers and emergency workers from across the nation-including more than 400 who proceeded in squad cars and motorcycles from Minneapolis-traveled to Bloomer to pay their respects to the fallen officer.
Schmidt was a high school basketball star in Bloomer and worked as an emergency medical technician there after high school. She spent four years in the U.S. Marines, then became an officer in the Bloomer Police Department. She joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 1996.
Schmidt is survived by her parents, Steve and Carole Schmidt of Bloomer, Wis., and an older brother, Chris.
Schmidt worked for the Minneapolis Police Department’s Crime Prevention Program before joining the Public Housing Unit. For two years, she worked with deaf and hearing-impaired people to help them understand how to protect themselves.
The entire Minneapolis Police Department mourns the loss of our friend and colleague, Officer Melissa J. Schmidt.