Police said Ted Hoffstrom was upset at how he believed Larson treated his mother’s medical condition.
The 30-year-old lawyer suspected of killing prominent Orono physician Dr. Stephen Larson had expressed hostility toward Larson because of how he believed the doctor had treated his mother in an undisclosed medical situation, police said Monday.
Ted C. Hoffstrom of St. Anthony, confronted Orono police outside the 74-year-old OB-GYN doctor’s home with a semiautomatic handgun Friday night. “Diligent attempts to negotiate” with Hoffstrom failed and he was shot and killed, authorities said. Larson was then found dead inside the house, shot with the gun Hoffstrom had wielded, ballistics tests would show.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions for both families involved, as well as the community of Orono,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Monday afternoon at a news conference in Minneapolis.
Hoffstrom’s family members either did not answer calls or declined to comment Monday. And Larson’s son, Christopher Larson, reiterated Monday that his family did not want to comment.
Just before 9 p.m. Friday, Orono officers responded to a call about trouble at Larson’s house on Heritage Lane. Larson had been on the phone with someone who heard him answer the door and heard startling noises. When Larson didn’t return to the phone, the person he had been talking to called police, Stanek said.
“We know who committed this murder, yet many unanswered questions remain,” Stanek said.
The four Orono officers involved in the shooting were Police Chief Correy Farniok, Officer Brad Schoenherr, Officer Paul Hooper and Officer Joshua Neham, authorities said. They remain on paid leave.
“Orono is a safe community, and there is no threat to the public at this time,” Deputy Chief Chris Fischer said.
Records going back to 2010 show no police calls to the Larson residence, a Hennepin County spokeswoman said. St. Anthony police said they’ve been called twice to the home where Ted Hoffstrom and his parents lived, including on Friday, both times to check on welfare. Further information on such checks is private, they said.
An outpouring of sorrow
Larson, who founded a medical group in Edina and Burnsville, was a well-known expert on pelvic surgery and a former adjunct professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
State records show that Larson was reprimanded in unrelated instances twice in his 40-year career as a licensed physician, in 1990 and 1996. He was fined $1,000 in each case, and no corrective action was required. According to state birth records, Larson was not the primary doctor at Hoffstrom’s delivery in 1983.
Sandy Kamin, administrator at Larson’s private practice clinics, worked with him for 25 years. She said Larson was a man who loved his job and his patients and set the bar high for his colleagues.
Kamin said clinic staffers gathered for about 90 minutes Monday morning to tell stories about Larson and share their feelings about his death.
“He’s our mentor,” she said. “He was the person we all looked to so we could be better at our jobs.”
Kamin said that even though Larson founded the clinic, he treated his partners as equals and made all of his employees feel respected.
The clinics in Edina and Burnsville had a steady stream of patients and well-wishers stopping by on Monday. “Today has been amazing,” Kamin said. “Our patients were bringing in flowers and baked goods and cards and really sharing their sympathy with us.”