COLD SPRING, Minn. - The story of the death of Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker is a story best told by his mother, Rosella Decker.
"Any time you needed help, couldn't have asked for a more wonderful son," she said on Friday from her family home just hours after Decker was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Unfortunately it's a story she shouldn't have to be telling.
The Cold Spring Police Chief has identified the officer shot and killed late Thursday as Tom Decker.
Chief Phil Jones struggled to retain his composure as he described the six-year department veteran as "our department jokester. Everyone who met him liked him."
Jones says Decker was the department's firearms and use-of-force instructor. He was with another officer responding to reports of a suicidal man. His chief says Decker was married with four young children.
"We're going to miss him," Jones said, fighting back tears. "The community and all of law enforcement will miss Tom Decker."
Rosella Decker says Tom grew up as one of eight children on a dairy farm south of Cold Spring. She says he surprised them when he announced he wanted to become a police officer.
"He loved his work, loved to help people," Rosella said.
Those who knew him as one of Cold Spring's guardians knew how he loved it so.
"He was definitely one of the good guys," resident Amanda Weber said through tears.
Decker was the good guy last night, going to check on someone who needed help. That someone was 34-year-old Ryan Larson who investigators say ambushed Decker as soon as he arrived.
Rosella said she received a call from Larson's mother who told her how terrible she felt about what had happened.
"I mean there's so many people hurting," Rosella said. "I mean, his family's got to be really hurting, too... I know Tom would've forgave him."
Rosella says that if there were one job Tom loved more than policing this town it was fathering his kids.
Kelly and Jade, Justin and Devon, ages 5, 6, 7 and 8 will have the support of an entire community as they move on without their dad.
"They took it really hard, the little girls. They could hardly handle it. The little boy, he just kind of turned like a little stone. He couldn't, he wouldn't talk or anything, Rosella said.
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