Remembering Officer Tom Decker one year after his shooting death

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It was last Nov. 29 that Cold Spring-Richmond Police Officer Tom Decker was shot and killed in the line of duty. Although the case remains open, no one has been charged in connection with the death of the slain officer.

The St. Cloud Times reports that at the request of Decker’s widow, Alicia, city staff organized a candlelight vigil to be held Friday evening at the Cold Spring City Hall. The vigil is characterized as an informal time for remembrance one year after the incident.

Decker was responding to a report of a possibly suicidal man who lived above a bar in Cold Spring when he was ambushed in the lot behind the bar. The man, Ryan Larson was subsequently arrested and spent five days in jail. He was released and was cleared in Decker’s death.

Later, investigators identified Eric Joseph Thomes, 31, as a person of interest in Decker’s death after police questioned him multiple times. When investigators returned to question him on Jan 2, Thomes ran to an outbuilding. When they entered the building, they found Thomes had hanged himself. A 20-gauge shotgun found on property that Thomes had access to was determined by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be the weapon that killed the officer. An August report from the BCA said that Thomes would have been arrested had he not killed himself.

Sheriff John Sanner said the case is classfied as open, with two unanswered questions: What was the motive, and did the shooter act alone.

An 11-mile stretch of State Highway 23 in Stearns County has been named the "Tom Decker Memorial Highway." Decker's wife and several of his police colleagues attended a service in Washington, D.C. that honored officers killed in the line of duty.

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