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Slain Minnesota Officer Laid To Rest

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COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota community said goodbye Wednesday to a police officer killed in the line of duty less than a week ago.

Officer Tom Decker was shot and killed last Thursday night in Cold Spring while responding to welfare check of a man who was apparently suicidal. Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered flags across the state lowered to half-staff for Wednesday’s funeral.

Many questions remain unanswered about Decker’s death. The only man arrested, Ryan Larson, was released from jail around noon Tuesday. He says he’s innocent. Prosecutors say it came down to a lack of physical evidence, and investigators are now looking at every possibility.

The Funeral

Thousands of police officers from across the country and Canada came to pay their respects as friends and family said goodbye to Officer Decker.

He was remembered a funeral at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville Wednesday morning.

In the December cold, hundreds quietly followed Decker’s casket into St. Boniface Catholic Church. Surrounding them, a blanket of uniforms.

More than 2,300 members of law enforcement came from places like Florida, Montana and even Canada to say goodbye to a fallen brother — and support his grieving family.

“I think they’ll be very proud to look back at this and know that he was totally appreciated in the work he did,” said Betty Lutgen.

As a steady stream of flashing lights wound its way from church to cemetery, people paid their respects from the street outside St. Nicholas Catholic Cemetery. Slowly, the father of four’s horse-drawn carriage approached Decker’s final resting place.

Many who knew Tom as a child — who wanted to grow up to be a cop — say they’re now concerned for the four children he leaves behind and their future without him.

“I just wish them the ability to accept and to live ideals that Tom gave to them,” said Shirley Lutgen.

The Procession

After the funeral, a long procession left the church and brought Decker to the cemetery.

Besides the hundreds of law enforcement personnel, Cold Spring residents also lined up to pay their respects along the processional route.

Sadness lined the streets of Cold Spring with somber faces and heavy hearts. Some waited hours to pay respects to their fallen hero.

“I was at work, but I took off so I could be here this afternoon,” said Kathy Spoden.

When the twinkle of lights appeared, the double breasted string of squads would take a full 30 minutes to pass through town.

Many parents brought young children, to pay witness to such a sad sight.

“Whether you knew him or not, support for our community,” said Jessica Orbeck.

When the hearse carrying the casket of Officer Decker finally passed, flags fluttered in the chilly breeze. Red, white and blue, interspersed with the black flags of sorrow.

It was just a few miles south of town where the motorcade would pass the Decker family farm. Mourners lining the country road, out of respect for the brave young officer, who was one of their own.

“It’s just a sad, sad story. He meant the world to us.”

The sight of that caisson carrying the casket to the cemetery was another of those powerfully sad images that made up today.

There are memorial funds set up to help the family of Officer Tom Decker.

Tom Decker Memorial Fund
State Bank of Cold Spring
PO Box 415 Cold Spring, MN 56320

Tom Decker Memorial Fund
1st National Bank of Cold Spring
PO Box 416 Cold Spring, MN 56320

Tom Decker Memorial Fund
Central Minnesota Credit Union
202 Red River Avenue So. Cold Spring, MN 56320

Tom Decker Memorial Fund
Wells Fargo
All locations

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