Posted at: 11/30/2012 7:30 AM
Updated at: 11/30/2012 6:29 PM
The community of Cold Spring is reeling from the tragic loss of a police officer there.
Officer Tom Decker, 31, was shot and killed around 11 p.m. Thursday night near Winner’s Bar on Main Street. Decker and his partner had been called out to that address, to check on a potentially suicidal male.
Officer Decker died at the scene. Authorities say he was shot twice, and it appears Decker was ambushed by the suspect.
Decker had been wearing his bulletproof vest, according to his chief, and had a partner with him.
Law enforcement agencies from across the region along with the Minnesota State Patrol launched a search for the suspect, who had left the scene.
Within an hour, Stearns County SWAT team investigators took Ryan Michael Larson, 34, of Cold Spring into custody. Larson was booked into the Stearns County Jail on murder charges early this morning.
Larson has a few traffic offenses and a disorderly conduct conviction on his record. But police did not have a great deal of contact with him.
A day into the investigation, the BCA said that many interviews have already been conducted and several guns have been located. Officers continue to interview potential witnesses and those involved with the incident. Officers are also continuing to search for additional evidence including any guns or weapons that may be related to this incident.
As for Decker, Police Chief Phil Jones said, "He was a chief's dream. Not only did I not have any problems with him, I also had six letters of commendation in the 6.5 years he was working with us." Cold Spring is a small department, with 16 full and part time officers.
He also said, "Everyone who met him, liked him. He was the department jokester, he had a great sense of humor."
Jones released that Decker leaves behind a wife and four young children. His parents live on a farm where Decker grew up, south of Cold Spring.
His brother told Eyewitness News that the family is in shock.
Officer Decker spent more than 10 years in law enforcement in Mille Lacs, Meeker and Stearns counties and had worked as an officer with the Cold Spring Police Department since March 2006.
Funeral arrangements for Officer Decker are not yet set.
Decker’s body was brought to the cities for an autopsy, and has since been brought back to Cold Spring.
The shooting is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Cold Spring Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, the St. Cloud Police and several other agencies.
Law enforcement from the Twin Ports region and throughout the state are feeling affected by this as well.