Anger over birth defect a motive in murder of Orono doctor? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Anger over birth defect a possible motive in Orono doctor's murder?

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Ted Hoffstrom, 30 Ted Hoffstrom, 30
Dr. Stephen Larson, 74 Dr. Stephen Larson, 74
ORONO, Minn. (KMSP) -

Investigators say the aspiring lawyer who shot and killed a beloved Twin Cities doctor had grown hostile to the man who once treated his mother, and Fox 9 News has learned his physical limitations may have been the catalyst.

Those who knew 30-year-old Ted Hoffstrom and 74-year-old Dr. Stephen Larson are shocked by the Orono shooting that took two lives and put four police officers -- including the Orono police chief -- on paid leave. Since the news broke over the weekend, many have spoken fondly of the renowned surgeon -- but few details were released about the lone suspect in his death.

On Monday, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek confirmed that Larson had treated Hoffstrom's mother, and it Fox 9 News has learned the shooting may have been the culmination of frustration over a life-altering birth defect.

Those who attended law school at the University of St. Thomas with Hoffstrom described him as an articulate and intelligent man. He graduated in 2009 and just passed the bar exam this year.

"It's very tragic news," Professor Charles Reid. "Ted is -- was -- a great guy, great student."

Hoffstrom's former classmates say the shooting is the last thing anyone would have expected.

"This is inexplicable to me," Reid said. "I do not understand this. This is not the student I knew."

Stanek declined to give any details about a motive for the slaying, but classmates told Fox 9 News that Hoffstrom had physical limitations that involved his hands, something they thought was a birth defect.

"The suspect had recently expressed hostility to his family members regarding Dr. Larson," Stanek said.

As more details emerge, it seems a growing belief that Larson was at fault for something that made Hoffstrom different may explain why the beloved doctor became a target of resentment and hatred.

Police wouldn't comment on the events that led up to officers shooting Hoffstrom, who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun as he sat on Larson's porch. Instead, they only confirmed the connection between the two men -- Hoffstrom's mother.

At the Hoffstrom family home, where Ted Hoffman lived with his parents, a note was left on their door, extending "heartfelt prayers and sympathy to the family of Dr. Stephen Larson."

"Our hearts are broken for all of those affected by this tragic event," the note continued. "We are shocked and saddened by this news, and many questions remain unanswered."

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the case.

"This is a tragedy of epic proportions for both families involved, as well as the community of Orono," Stanek said.

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