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Murder weapon located in Cold Spring, Minn., officer murder

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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension today announced that the gun likely used to kill Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker has been recovered.

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According to a new release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agents attempted to conduct a follow-up interview just after 2 p.m.  Wednesday at the home of a Cold Spring resident as of part of the investigation into the shooting death of Officer Decker. The individual they hoped to interview fled the agents, entering an outbuilding on his property. BCA agents and Stearns County Sheriff’s Office investigators tried for several hours to contact the individual. He refused to exit the building. Shortly before 7 p.m. agents and investigators entered the building and found the individual deceased.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner has identified the individual as Eric Joseph Thomes, DOB 5/12/81, of 22287 Great Northern Drive in Cold Spring. Mr. Thomes died of suicide by hanging.

The subsequent investigation of Mr. Thomes led investigators to a 20 gauge shotgun located at a separate property. BCA Laboratory firearms experts have determined that the gun was likely the weapon used to kill Officer Decker on Nov. 29, 2012.

As part of the investigation into Officer Decker’s murder, investigators are asking the public to identify any activities or notable actions taken by Thomes between the week prior to Officer Decker’s killing and Mr. Thomes’ death on Wednesday. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 877-782-5683 or the BCA at 877-996-6222 or bca.tips@state.mn.us.

BCA Superintendent Wade Setter said that while Mr. Thomes is a person of interest in the shooting of Officer Decker, this is very much an active and ongoing investigation.

“BCA agents and Stearns County Sheriff’s Office investigators continue to work every lead in a methodical and thorough manner,” Setter said. “We are determined to fully reconstruct the events that led to Officer Decker’s murder.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office are conducting the investigation with assistance from the Cold Spring Police Department, the FBI and several other agencies.

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