People who Cold Spring Officer protected react to break in murder case

8:22 AM, Jan 5, 2013   |    comments
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RICHMOND, Minnesota -- It didn't take long for news about a break in the Officer Tom Decker murder case to spread through the small town where the beloved father and officer once patrolled. The unsolved case was still "top of mind" 36 days after the officer was shot and killed in nearby Cold Spring.

"They wonder where the weapon went and if they really have the right guy and did they mess up?" Barber Duane Gretsch explained. "I still was hoping that it would be solved sometime and not a real long time," he added.

The MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced the gun likely used to kill Officer Decker had been recovered after investigators tried to follow up with a person of interest outside of Cold Spring. Eric Thomes ran from police and was later found after committing suicide. The investigation led detectives to a 20 gauge shotgun located "at a separate property."

Next door to the Richmond Barber Shop, taped to the door at the bowling alley, was a reward sign offering money for information leading to an arrest in the case. A few doors down, Sue Spanier hung a sign in her window at the Wedding and Tuxedo connection, advertising a blue light sale in honor of Officer Decker. "Everybody's talking about Tommie," she explained.

Spanier says she got the news from her son on Friday. "My knees got weak and I got goosebumps all over when he said they think they found the guy," she explained. The investigation could be winding to a close. "It seemed like forever," Spanier said.

As Ernie Dold returned to his Richmond home, he was greeted by 4 blue lights honoring the fallen officer on his garage. "I think of Decker all the time. Guy gets out of his car and he's shot twice with a shotgun. Why? I know I've gone to bed many a time; kind of lay there for awhile thinking what could have happened," he said.

He's hoping the latest developments means the case will be closed soon. "When you have a young officer like that killed, a family man and all, small communities like Richmond and Cold Spring needed closure on this. It bothered me and I'm sure it bothered everybody," Dold said.

He also said he'll turn on his blue lights every night, letting them light the night from dusk to dawn, until they burn out.

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