BCA: Man Questioned in Decker Case Commits Suicide

Updated: 01/04/2013 10:53 PM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Friday that the gun likely used to kill Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker has been recovered, and a man questioned several times in connection to Decker's killing committed suicide this week.

Decker was shot and killed in the line of duty on Thursday, Nov. 29, behind Winners Bar in Cold Spring.

BCA Superintendent Wade Setter said they received a tip about a "person of interest" after the last news conference that was held in December.

Investigators from the BCA say they interviewed the "person of interest," who was identified as 31-year-old Eric Joseph Thomes of Cold Spring, on numerous occasions.

Around 2 p.m. Wednesday, the agents went to a home in rural Cold Spring to interview Thomes again. Setter says Thomes fled on foot when the agents approached and ran into a metal building, refusing to come out.

The officers attempted to make contact with Thomes for about four or five hours, Setter said. Shortly before 7 p.m. they entered the building and found that Thomes had apparently committed suicide by hanging himself.

A subsequent investigation led officers to find a 20-gauge shotgun on a separate property to which Thomes had access. They determined it was likely the weapon used to murder officer Decker.

Authorities also said a black van connected to Thomes that had been seen on the night of Decker's death was recovered.

Thomes was convicted of driving while intoxicated in Stearns County in 2011 and had a few other speeding and traffic violations.

Setter says there are still many questions that remain to be answered and the investigation is still active and ongoing. They are not ruling out any other suspects at this point.

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner called the developments significant, but said the investigation is far from over.

Anyone with information can call the Stearns County tip line at 877-782-5683, the BCA tip line at 877-996-6222, or email tips to bca.tips@state.mn.us.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.