Reporting Esme Murphy
COLD SPRING, Minn. (WCCO) — The man arrested, then released after the death of Cold Spring, Minn., police officer Tom Decker is talking exclusively to WCCO.
Ryan Larson said from the moment he was arrested, he told police he was innocent.
Larson said, “From the minute I walked through that door, I was telling the truth on everything I know. I mean I have nothing to hide.”
Larson said in the court of public opinion he has already been convicted of officer Tom Decker’s murder.
“My life is gone; basically stolen from me,” he said. “I am always going to be looked at as the person that committed this crime.”
Asked if he had anything to do with the murder of Decker, he responded, “Absolutely not. I was in bed and I was sleeping.”
The BCA said Larson remains a suspect, and that no one is being ruled out. Larson said he has not been allowed to go back to reclaim possessions, or even get his car, which remains parked outside the bar. He has no attorney — friends have been helping him manage.
“I got no place to live,” he said. “I can’t go back to school. I can’t go to work. I bounce around from place to place trying to keep a low profile.”
Larson said while he had been depressed about classes at a local vocational tech school, and a breakup with a longtime girlfriend, he said he was — and is — not suicidal.
He said texts he sent to relatives that night merely said the next day would be “a big one” because he was going to make changes at school.
Police dispatches from that night show that from the beginning, police were looking for Larson. But it was not until an hour after the fatal shooting that officers entered his upstairs apartment bedroom and arrested him.
“They told me a Cold Spring officer was shot,” Larson recalled. “And I asked them, ‘Which one?’ and they said, ‘Tommy Decker.’”
Larson said he knew officer Decker. Larson said he was a bartender and served officer Decker at Winners Bar the nights of his bachelor and wedding parties last year.
Another night, Larson said he was trying to throw someone out of the bar and Decker came to his rescue.
“Tommy had grabbed him by the shirt, threw him up against the wall, and held him there, basically prevented that guy from attacking me,” Larson said. “I said, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I owe you Tommy.’”
Larson said he then had bought Decker and his wife a drink. Larson said he has a conceal and carry permit, and had a loaded handgun and two hunting rifles in his apartment. The murder weapon was a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun.
“I have never owned a 20-gauge shotgun,” Larson said.
He added that he wants justice for officer Decker and for Cold Spring. And he wants law enforcement to clear his name.
“Tell everyone what you have on me, let me know,” he said. “Let me know, because I was in bed sleeping. I sat in jail for six days with a couple of them trying to convince me that I was crazy — I am not crazy.”
Larson said BCA agents were interviewing his friends as recently as Tuesday.
The BCA and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department refused to answer any questions about the Decker case.
Both agencies say that’s because it is still an active investigation.