Cold Spring police chief supports investigation of officer's deathby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
COLD SPRING, Minn. — Nearly two weeks ago, Officer Tom Decker was shot and killed in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring.
Police investigators don't have a suspect in custody and say they are still searching for the murder weapon.
Since Decker's death, Cold Spring Police Chief Phil Jones has remained mostly silent, but said in an interview with MPR News that he has faith in the investigation.
Police said Decker was responding to concerns about a possibly suicidal man the night he was shot and killed.
It's something Decker had done before, Jones said.
"I would say that that particular call was one of Tom's specialties," Jones said.
He said Decker had an ability to reach out to people in crisis and those struggling with mental illness during high-stress calls.
Decker was commended for saving the life of a woman who was attempting to commit suicide the day after Christmas, according to the 2011 Cold Spring Police Department's Annual Report. The report said the woman was bleeding from a long cut on her forearm and holding a large butcher knife when Decker entered her apartment. The woman turned the knife on Decker and then moved towards him. When she turned away, Decker was able to grab and restrain the woman.
"He would've been justified in using deadly force, less than lethal force, all the way on down the line," Jones said. "Because of his extraordinary communication skills he was able to resolve it with almost no force whatsoever."
Decker was shot around 10:45 p.m. Nov. 29 behind Winner's Sports Bar and Grill in Cold Spring in what police called an ambush.
According to those in the bar that night, it was busier than usual. They said inside the bar it was noisy and difficult, if not impossible, to hear anything happening outside.
Few details about that night's events have been released.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Stearns County Sheriff's Office are conducting the investigation into Decker's death.
The Cold Spring Police is "standing down," Jones said.
"There's a team of investigators that are taking care of the investigation ... I'm confident that we have the best team available working on this case," he said.
Police released the suspect they had in custody last week because there was not enough evidence to bring charges.
Madeleine Baran reported from St. Paul.
- Morning Edition, 12/11/2012, 4:00 a.m.
Conrad Wilson covers central Minnesota from the MPR News bureau in Collegeville.