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Man charged after argument at St. Paul bar ends with local hockey coach dead

John Whisler faces second-degree murder charges after he allegedly pushed Bloomington H.S. girls hockey coach Mike Ryan down a flight of cement stairs.
Credit: Ramsey County
John Whisler

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — A St. Paul man is facing second-degree murder charges after police say a Saturday night argument at a local bar ended with another man's fatal brain injury. 

According to a criminal complaint, St. Paul police responded to Herbie's On The Park just after 11:00 p.m. Saturday, April 17 following reports of an assault. 

When officers arrived they found the victim at the bottom of a flight of nine concrete stairs, laying in a pool of fresh blood. The man was rushed to Regions Hospital, where doctors determined that he had suffered a brain injury he couldn't recover from. The victim was placed on life support to give his family time to say their goodbyes. 

Investigators at the scene said they were able to determine from speaking to witnesses at the bar that the incident started when the suspect, later identified as Ryan John Whisler, punched through cellophane wrapped around a urinal in the bathroom to encourage social distancing. Whisler reportedly took a video of himself while using this urinal. 

The victim was said to be "agitated" with Whisler for this behavior, but witnesses said he didn't confront the other man at the time. 

As the men were leaving the bar later the victim allegedly called Whisler out on his behavior in the bathroom, and according to the complaint, Whisler took a lot of verbal abuse from the victim. The verbal confrontation calmed down when the two men got outside, witnesses said. 

According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video caught Whisler punching Ryan's head with "a large, sweeping motion." When played frame by frame, the video apparently shows Whisler pushing Ryan towards the stairs. Ryan flew backwards and landed at the bottom of the stairs, hitting his head on the concrete. 

Whisler fled the scene in a blue hatchback, and police were able to identify him from the credit card he used to pay his tab at the bar. 

One day later, on April 18, Whisler turned himself in to St. Paul Police. He is being held at the Ramsey County Jail on $500,000 bond. 

The victim was taken off of life support on April 18, and died shortly after. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide, and cause of death as a traumatic brain injury due to a fall from a physical assault. 

The victim is Mike Ryan, head coach of the Bloomington Jefferson girls hockey team.

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