Dash cam video of shows cordial Cold Spring 'person of interest' - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Dash cam video of shows cordial Cold Spring 'person of interest'

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COLD SPRING, Minn. (KMSP) -

It was 17 months ago when a routine traffic stop over expired tabs was made, but it may have been the catalyst for a tragic chain of events.

Eric Thomes, who hung himself two weeks ago inside his girlfriend's garage when detectives arrived to interview him about he murder of Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker, was behind the wheel on the night of Aug. 8, 20011.

Decker's partner, Officer Greg Reiter, pulled Thomes over and began to wonder whether he was driving under the influence. By the time Decker showed up to assist with the field sobriety test, the squad car's dash cam video began to get blurry from condensation on the windshield.

Thomes blew a .12, but he was hardly belligerent. In fact, he sounded downright cordial as he explained that he was driving from Winners Bar.

At the police station, Thomes told police he was driving friends home from the bar when he was pulled over. That bar would later become a crime scene after Decker was shot in the alley during a welfare check on Ryan Larson, who lives upstairs from the bar.

"I had two beers in a half hour," Thomes told police.

That DUI marked the start of a year-long legal spiral for Thomes. He would be arrested four more times on charges of missing court dates or driving after revocation, and he'd also been going through a divorce and a child custody dispute.

On the night Decker was checking up on a report that Larson may be suicidal, Thomes already knew he was in trouble. He'd missed another court date and a warrant for his arrest would be issued the next day. If he'd seen Decker and Reiter in the parking lot, they may have known -- and may have wondered if he was leaving the bar drunk one more time.

The question is whether any of that could have been a motive for murder. Investigators will only call Thomes a person of interest, but they believe he owns the mysterious black van with a loud muffler that was seen leaving the crime scene.

Detectives also recovered the murder weapon -- a 20-guage shotgun -- in a place Thomes had access to.

However, Reiter saw the killer wearing a hoodie -- but apparently didn't recognize Thomes despite spending three hours with him the night he was busted.

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