The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 30, 2012

Police officer killed in Cold Spring, near St. Cloud

By Dave Aeikens
St. Cloud Times

COLD SPRING — The Cold Spring officer shot and killed Thursday has been identified as Tom Decker, according to Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner.

The Rev. Cletus Connors of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring said he met with the family last night and he has known the officer for years.

“He was a nice young person. Always sincere and the type of guy who always wanted to do what was right. He would give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Connor said.

Decker had been a police officer for Cold Spring and Richmond since 2006. He is Rocori High School graduate.

“I don’t know anyone who would command more respect in the town,” Connors said.

His father is John Decker, a farmer in St. Nicholas, Connors said.

Decker has served as a police officer in Isle, Watkins and Kimball, according to the police department’s Web site.

The officer was shot and killed late Thursday when he was trying to do a welfare check, Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold said during an early morning news conference today.

The shooting and the subsequent hunt for the suspect shut down much of downtown Cold Spring late Thursday. Ryan Michael Larson, 34, of Cold Spring was arrested and is in Stearns County Jail.

Officers responded to the scene about 11 p.m. Thursday. A police perimeter was set up around much of downtown during the search for the suspect, and a helicopter hovered overhead.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab is processing the scene, Bechtold said.

Multiple police agencies were called to help with the investigation.

Bechtold said the last Stearns County officer who was killed in the line of duty was St. Joseph officer Brian Klinefelter in 1996. Klinefelter was shot while attempting to arrest three suspects who had robbed a liquor store.

Reporters Eric Stromgren, Kevin Allenspach and Kari Petrie contributed to this report.


Earlier report from the Associated Press

A police officer has been fatally shot during a routine check on a resident in central Minnesota.

Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold says the male officer died late Thursday evening behind an apartment above a bar in Cold Spring near St. Cloud.

A St. Cloud Times report ( ) says a suspect has been arrested. Police identified the officer as Tom Decker.. Jail records show a 34-year-old man was booked in just after midnight on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Bechtold says he believes the suspect was in the residence that the officer was called to check.

No Stearns County officer has been killed in the line of duty since St. Joseph officer Brian Klinefelter was shot in 1996 during the arrest of three robbery suspects.


Information from: St. Cloud Times,