MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When the man who was arrested, and then released, after a Cold Spring officer was killed returned to his apartment for the first time since being named a suspect, he said he was shocked at what he found.
His apartment had been ransacked — with nearly everything he owned turned upside down.
Officer Tom Decker was shot to death in Cold Spring nearly three weeks ago, while responding to reports of a man who might be suicidal.
That man, Ryan Larson, says police have been wrongly targeting him as their prime suspect. And now, after returning to his apartment, he says he’s even more upset.
“To come here and trash my belongings is uncalled for,” Larson said Tuesday. “I understand that they are mad; I am mad as well about the whole case.”
Larson has repeatedly maintained his innocence. He lived in the apartment right above the bar — near the parking lot where Decker was murdered. Larson remains a suspect in the case but investigators were forced to release him after failing to find any evidence linking him to the shooting.
“I should be the only person that is not considered a suspect,” Larson said. “They tested me for GSR [gunshot residue] the first hour that I was in there.”
Larson said deputies would not tell him how the GSR test went. He is convinced, however, if it had tested positive, he would still be in jail.
When Larson first returned to his apartment, he wasn’t expecting to return to such a mess.
His belongings were strewn all over the place, boxes and papers covered the floor — from the bedroom to the kitchen, officers appeared to have left nothing untouched.
Larson says even some of the walls and floorboards were torn out, when detectives searched for a weapon: a sawed-off, 20-gauge shotgun.
After sending us the photos Tuesday morning, Larson texted, “To see my pictures of my son, my homework, my school projects thrown around, this isn’t an investigation, it’s vandalism.”
Larson, a student at a local community college, did an exclusive interview with WCCO just last week and said his life will never be the same.
“My life is gone,” he said, “basically stolen from me.”
After seeing his place, Larson was extremely upset and angry. His last text message to us read, “They’ve let Tommy down.”
Larson has been staying with friends, hopping from one place to another and has stopped taking classes for now.
He said he’s frustrated that he remains a suspect in the BCA’s investigation, especially after investigators came forward offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Larson said he is trying to get his life back to normal but says right now he’s far from it.
Larson’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, says Larson does not have any legal recourse against police over the condition of his apartment.
Meanwhile, the Stearns County Attorney’s Office has released transcripts of two 911 calls that were made around 10:47 p.m. on Nov. 29 — the night Decker was murdered.
In the transcripts, each caller describes seeing a black, “noisy” van leave the scene of Winner’s Bar, where Decker was shot in the parking lot.
The black van was brought up at Monday’s press conference, when the $100,000 reward for information was announced.
“I heard this noisy car drive away … And then I see a man, a man laying there,” one caller said.
They told police they didn’t know if the vehicle was involved in the crime but said it had a loud exhaust and headed into town after the incident.
Larson said he was briefly questioned about the black van the night of his arrest, but he didn’t have any information about it.
The investigation in Cold Spring is ongoing. Investigators, including FBI agents, have returned to the scene to interview and re-interview people who were near it the night of the shooting.
Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 877-782-5683 or the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 877-996-6222.