MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A day before the funeral for a central Minnesota police officer killed in the line of duty, the man initially accused in the fatal shooting was released from jail after authorities said Tuesday they didn't have enough evidence to file charges.
They vowed to keep investigating the slaying of Cold Spring Officer Tom Decker, and they asked the public to continue helping in the search for the 20-gauge shotgun believed to have been used in the shooting.
"Investigators will not rest until we fully determine what happened the night of Officer Decker's death and bring to account those responsible," said Drew Evans, assistant superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Decker, 31, was fatally shot late Thursday behind a downtown Cold Spring bar as he and his partner were checking on a man reported to be suicidal. Authorities had described the shooting as an ambush, though they offered no details.
Ryan Michael Larson, the 34-year-old man arrested roughly an hour after Decker was killed, walked out of jail shortly before noon Tuesday. The BCA and the Stearns County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that prosecutors did not have "sufficient documented evidence" to continue holding him on suspicion of second-degree murder charges.
The Associated Press was unable to reach Larson for comment, and he did not appear to have an attorney. While jailed over the weekend, he told the St. Cloud Times that authorities had the wrong guy, and that he was asleep in his apartment above the bar when Decker was shot.
"Basically, they have no evidence whatsoever that points in my direction," Larson told the newspaper. "They have no gun, they have no fingerprints, they have nothing."
On the night of Decker's death, police received a call from Larson's family indicating he might be suicidal. Larson told the St. Cloud Times that his family had simply misinterpreted text messages he had sent, adding that he had met Decker a handful of times. He called Decker a "great guy."