911 transcript from Decker shooting released; black van sought

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2012 - 8:58 PM

A $100,000 reward has been offered. Officials are looking for a loud black van.

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Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker

A noisy black van was seen heading west down Main Street just after Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker was fatally shot, according to a transcript of 911 calls released Tuesday.

"We need ambulance and police officers at Winners bar ... come here real quick," the caller told 911 operators shortly after 10:47 p.m. on Nov. 29. "It was a black van; we just saw it."

The caller said the van was heading into the town of Cold Spring on Main Street.

Stearns County officials released a three-page transcript one day after authorities offered a $100,000 reward in the case and said they were looking for a black van with a loud exhaust system.

The caller to 911 said: "Someone said there was a noisy black van."

The callers' names were removed from the transcript. A second caller reported: "Officer down" and the dispatcher replied: "We've got everybody going."

Decker, 31, was providing backup on a welfare check of Ryan Larson, who lived in an apartment above the bar. Larson's family feared he might be suicidal.

Decker was shot in the head and divers are searching the Sauk River for the 20-gauge shotgun authorities believe was the murder weapon.

Documents used to hold Larson, the initial suspect in the shooting, show that part-time officer Greg Reiter reported hearing two bangs after Decker left his squad car. A suspect pointed a gun and walked west as Reiter backed his squad car to the east.

The document used to detain Larson makes no mention of a black van. Reiter is on paid administrative leave as the investigation into Decker's death approaches its third week.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who lauded Decker's courage and compassion on the House floor Tuesday, said she'll spearhead efforts to rename Cold Springs' post office after the slain officer.

Curt Brown • 612-673-4767

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