The normally tranquil southern Minnesota town of Faribault was thrown into turmoil Friday when a former police captain fatally shot his ex-wife, who had a restraining order against him, then killed himself, authorities said.
Police were summoned shortly after noon to Faribault’s Chamber of Commerce building at 530 Wilson Av. after a customer found the bodies of Richard Larson, 61, and Barbara Larson, 59, both of Faribault, behind the front desk, officials said.
The customer ran out of the building and drove to a nearby Burger King restaurant, where he called 911, according to police scanner audio.
The apparent murder-suicide is the second one in the town this month.
“Being such a small community, Faribault PD has worked with both [Larsons] in the past,” Chief Andy Bohlen said in a news release. “Our collective hearts are broken after responding to such a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all families involved.”
Richard Larson retired from the police force in 2008, officials said. Barbara Larson was membership services and events coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, according to the organization’s website.
The Chamber on Friday afternoon posted a condolence message on its Facebook page, which was later taken down.
Police confirmed later that Barbara Larson had a restraining order against her former husband. The two were divorced in 2014.
No police calls
A handgun was found on the ground near the two bodies, Faribault police Capt. Neal Pederson said at an afternoon news conference.
Pederson told reporters that he wasn’t aware of any disputes between the Larsons, adding that police haven’t received any domestic dispute-related calls involving the former couple.
“We didn’t have any calls where officers had to go in and mediate,” he said. “We are aware that there was a harassment restraining order served this week on the male party, involving the female.”
A 2006 article in the Faribault Daily News reported that Larson, then a police captain, had been investigated in connection with a domestic incident involving his son, but he was never disciplined.
A Facebook page in Larson’s name said that he worked as a safety coordinator for the National Child Safety Council, a Michigan-based nonprofit, and studied law enforcement in college. According to online court records, Larson has no previous criminal history.
Officers responding to the scene Friday found a note near the bodies that “made reference to” the shooting, according to police scanner reports.
Another officer on the scanner is heard saying that the gunman had taken “all his guns and some ammo yesterday from his son’s house.”
When officers arrived, they set up a barrier around the building, awaiting the arrival of an armored vehicle before going inside, according to scanner audio. The driver of a vehicle seen leaving the area after police arrived was briefly questioned, according to the scanner audio, but was released after investigators determined that he had not been involved. No one else was thought to have been in the building at the time of the shooting.
Faribault police continued their investigation Friday night in search of a motive for the slaying, aided by the Rice County Sheriff’s Office and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
A second tragedy
Friday’s murder-suicide was the second this month in Faribault.
On Dec. 11, police found Ryan Perrizo, 33, and Lynnaya Stoddard-Espinoza, 8, dead of gunshot wounds in their home in the 2500 block of Hulett Avenue, according to published reports at the time. They determined that Perrizo had shot the child, then himself.
Investigators say Perrizo and his wife, who died of a sudden illness in 2014, had petitioned for and received a temporary custody consent decree in 2012, which granted them sole legal and physical custody of the little girl, making them her legal guardians.
Relatives said that Perrizo had been despondent since the death of his wife.