Ryan Larson and the urge to name suspects

Though they said the investigation is far from over, authorities are providing some evidence the man found dead in a Cold Spring apartment last night is the man who might have ambushed and killed Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker in November.

The gun used in the killing was found on Eric Thomes’ property. He was found dead; He had apparently killed himself as police tried to interview him about “inconsistencies” in the story he’s given police.

But BCA superintendent Wade Setter said “We have not excluded anyone as a suspect in this case,” and said it would be “premature” to suggest Thomes did it.


That’s got to sting Ryan Larson, who is the “anyone” Setter is referring to.

Larson’s official involvement still seems to be that he was the guy Officer Decker was to check on at the request of some family members.

After the shooting, that was apparently enough to hustle Larson off to jail. His apartment was tossed by the cops, and he was named as a suspect.

The media, many of whom have a policy about naming suspects until they are charged with a crime, tossed their policies, even though the reason it exists is to prevent innocent people from being named until there’s some evidence to charge them with a crime. The Star Tribune carried quotes about his temper from an ex-girlfriend.

There was — and as far as we can tell, still is — no evidence to charge Larson with anything. The county prosecutor refused to charge him in the case.

But almost every subsequent news story about Officer Decker’s killer included a mug shot of Larson, who feared enough for his safety that he didn’t return to his apartment for days.

If it turns out that, indeed, Larson was not involved in the shooting as he insists, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for introspection on how he was so publicly linked to the crime.

“I just hope it ends for everybody,” he told the Star Tribune today.