Initial Cold Spring shooting suspect now faces felony stalking charge

  • Article by: CURT BROWN and ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: January 10, 2013 - 10:43 PM

A warrant was issued for Ryan Larson, who also has not been cleared in the Decker slaying.

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In this file photo from Dec. 14, 2012, Ryan Larson spoke during an interview. He says he had nothing to do with the death of a Cold Spring police officer and wants to get his life back.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Legal troubles flared back up Thursday for Ryan Michael Larson, the initial suspect arrested and then released in the shooting death of Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker.

An arrest warrant was issued and felony stalking charges were filed in Wright County, accusing Larson of harassing an ex-girlfriend with e-mails and texts -- including some alleged e-mail contact with her the night Decker was killed. Larson has insisted he was at his Cold Spring apartment by 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 and asleep at 8 p.m., waking after midnight when police officers arrested him.

But according to the criminal complaint filed in Buffalo, Larson e-mailed his ex-girlfriend, saying he saw her car "that evening" at a Maple Lake bar -- nearly 40 miles from his Cold Spring apartment above Winners bar. Decker was shot twice in the head behind Winners.

In a text message sent to the Star Tribune, Larson denied being in Maple Lake, saying "it never happened. I was in Cold Spring.

"I'm tired of fighting and being accused," he said. "Just wish this nonsense would end." He said he hadn't communicated with the ex-girlfriend since August.

According to the complaint, Larson called, texted and e-mailed the health care companies where his ex-girlfriend worked, causing her to lose her job.

The ex-girlfriend, referred to only by her initials in the complaint, declined to comment because Larson hadn't been arrested and she feared discussing the case while his whereabouts are unknown.

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty said deputies would attempt to locate and arrest Larson "sooner than later," but he hadn't been booked into the jail as of early Thursday night. The sheriff characterized the stalking charge against Larson as common and said it's unclear if the time frame of the e-mails contradicts Larson's earlier statements to police and reporters about being at home all night. The sheriff said his deputies have had four or five contacts with Larson since his ex-girlfriend obtained an order of protection in August.

The ex-girlfriend had been in a relationship with Larson from August 2010 until last February. After the breakup, she says he became depressed, angry and suicidal.

"The constant harassment, name calling, fighting, threats of suicide, lies and blackmail ... is well past the point of being scary," she said in her request for a restraining order.

The stalking complaint says that at 10 p.m. the night Decker was shot, Larson's mother called his ex-girlfriend. A Wright County deputy also spoke to Larson's mother about some "disturbing text messages from her son ... that tomorrow something big is going to happen."

Larson's mother feared he was suicidal and alerted Cold Spring police, who attempted to locate Larson. Decker, who was making a welfare check on Larson, was shot a short distance from the staircase leading to Larson's apartment.

Hagerty said his deputies had no contact with Larson that night, but deputies went to check on the ex-girlfriend's safety about 10:30 p.m. Decker was shot at 10:45 p.m.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, who are supervising the Decker investigation, have not cleared Larson. Larson has steadfastly denied any involvement.

According to the stalking complaint, he remained intensely interested in the case. He allegedly texted his ex-girlfriend: "I promise I didn't do it" on Dec. 30. At 12:46 a.m. on Jan. 4, the ex-girlfriend says she received a text message she believes came from Larson that stated: "News will be breaking in the Cold Spring case tomorrow."

Later that day, authorities announced they had found a shotgun they believed killed Decker. Eric J. Thomes, 31, who had access to the property where the gun was found, committed suicide as agents came to interview him about discrepancies in his story. BCA agents continue to look into Thomes' actions over the past several weeks.

"There are just a lot of tentacles in this web, so it's taking us a while to unravel it and figure out exactly what's going on," BCA Assistant Superintendent Drew Evans said.

curt.brown@startribune.com • 612-673-4767 asimons@startribune.com • 612-673-4921

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