MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Many townspeople in Cold Spring, Minn., said Friday that they think the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office owes 34-year-old Ryan Larson – the initial suspect in last year’s officer shooting death — a big apology.

Larson agrees.

“When you go to Google and look up my name, all you see are stories and my picture in connection to the murder. They [the authorities] need to fix that,” he said.

Earlier that day, authorities said another “person of interest” in the case, 31-year-old Eric Joseph Thomes, hung himself this week after fleeing investigators that were trying to talk with him. The weapon that allegedly killed Officer Tom Decker, a .20-gauge shotgun, was also found on a property connected to Thomes.

The news of his death had the small community buzzing.

Ernie Dold, a Cold Spring resident, said Friday’s events made him feel “great,” as they offered some closure in a case that’s left many in the town frustrated and discouraged.

“It’s been really hard on everyone in this area to think of the possibility of him – whoever did this – to get away, and never be caught,” he said.

Michelle Schmitz, a Cold Spring resident and mother of two, said the unsolved nature of the case is what hit the community the hardest.

“When you live in Cold Spring, you think you live in this small, safe area,” she said. “This episode definitely made us change our philosophy on that.”

WCCO-TV went to the home of Thomes’ parents, who live in Cold Spring. A woman answered the door but gave no comment.


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