By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The investigation into the shooting of Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker continues with no arrests and a murder weapon that still hasn’t been found. Meanwhile, we’re learning more about what happened last Thursday night when Decker was shot and killed.

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Scanner communication of the Stearns County Sheriff’s dispatchers was broadcast live that night on a website that features scanner traffic from around the country.

The audio reveals that Decker was killed without any type of warning and that the killer shot him in the head. Investigators immediately began focusing on finding Ryan Larson, who Decker and his partner had been sent to check on.

The string of events began with a call to Cold Spring police from Ryan Larson’s brother and mother concerned that Larson might be suicidal, asking police to check on him

The first time Decker and his partner go to the apartment above Winner’s Bar to check on Larson, they don’t get in.

In the recorded dispatch audio, an officer says, “no answer on any of the doors here. I tried the phone number on the way over here.”

Twenty-five minutes later after routine dispatches from other squads, there is a chilling call from Decker’s partner.

“Officer shots fired. Officer down,” said the officer.

Twenty-four seconds later, we hear Decker’s partner again.

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“I have no idea where the suspect went,” said the officer.

Immediately, other cars are dispatched to the scene. An officer can be heard being ordered to interview bar patrons.

One officer says, “Anyone in the bar, why don’t you have them come to my car parked by the bridge, so we can identify them, get their information in case we need to talk to them later. Have them walk out with their hands up.”

An officer can be heard calling for an ambulance: “We need EMS to the scene now … to get the officer.”

One of the officers can be heard saying the suspect had a handgun.

Dispatchers urge officers to be cautious. One says, “You maybe should be doubled up. Two people. Doubled up. Watch each other’s backs.”

Throughout the incident, officers can be heard looking for Larson. Then, you can hear officers telling each other Larson has been arrested, one saying “we have Larson.”

When Larson was arrested, you can hear officers say that a loaded gun was found in his apartment.

Larson was later released for lack of evidence and he said from the start that he is innocent.

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There’s something else that stands out from listening to the dispatch audio. It is half an hour after the shooting that you can hear officers securing the perimeter of the scene — a long time during which the killer could have escaped.

Esme Murphy