For the third time in as many weeks, an exhaustive search of the Anoka County-Blaine Airport ended Tuesday with no sign of the man charged with killing his onetime romantic and business partner outside an Arden Hills gas station.
The search, involving dozens of officers in tactical gear hunting on foot and from the air, was prompted by an early-morning sighting of a man near the airport fence who may have been Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, according to Blaine Police Chief Chris Olson.
The tip came on the heels of a bank robbery Sunday in Blaine committed by a man whose features on video footage strongly resemble Hoffman's.
Also Tuesday morning, officers searched a school bus yard near the airport after police found evidence that someone tried to break into the lot, but found nothing.
At an early-evening news conference after the search ended, Olson said officers "checked all areas that we thought we had to check" after the morning sighting. An officer who spotted the man before daybreak alerted others and a perimeter was quickly set up, but a day of searching within it turned up nothing, Olson said.
For much of the day, all gates leading into the airport were blocked by squad cars from the Blaine Police Department and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. An ambulance was also on the scene. Authorities also closed the exit from Hwy. 10 to 93rd Lane, which leads to the airport. The roads were reopened in late afternoon.
The search included a sweep through wooded areas on the grounds as a State Patrol helicopter hovered overhead, with an officer poised at the open door, scanning below while holding a rifle.
Olson said that law enforcement will continue to respond to any tips about Hoffman's whereabouts until he is found.
Hoffman, 44, of Minneapolis, is wanted in connection with the Aug. 11 shooting death of Kelly Phillips, 48, an attorney and Boston Scientific vice president and owner of the Lush nightclub in Minneapolis, where Hoffman had worked. Phillips, of Minneapolis, was to marry Nathon Bailey on Aug. 30, but instead, friends and family held a private memorial service for him that day.
Hoffman allegedly shot Phillips three times at an Arden Hills Holiday gas station. The two had been engaged in an increasingly tense personal and professional dispute. Hoffman has been charged via arrest warrant in Ramsey County District Court with one count of intentional second-degree murder.
He is also suspected of holding up a TCF Bank in Blaine around 2 p.m. Sunday and fleeing with cash and a red dye pack that probably exploded. Olson said the bank robbery suspect, who closely resembles Hoffman in video footage, fled on foot, but it's unclear whether he continued on foot or escaped in a vehicle.
The search for Hoffman has centered around the airport, near where his car was found parked after the shooting. There was an extensive building-by-building search of the area on the day of the shooting, and a second one on Monday that found nothing. Tuesday's search was the third of the area.
In the past couple of weeks, authorities had expanded their search outside state and national borders as the reward fund for Hoffman's arrest hit $25,000.
Police continued to caution the public that Hoffman should be "considered armed and dangerous" and asked anyone who might see him or have information to call 911.
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