ST. CLOUD -- A big break in the Cold Spring Police Officer murder case.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Stearns County Sheriff's Office says they have recovered the gun believed to be used in the shooting death of Officer Tom Decker.

Police also have a new person of interest in the case, but he was found dead hours after officers tried to interview him. Officers were trying to do a follow-up interview Wednesday afternoon at a home in the 22-thousand block of Great Northern Drive in Cold Spring, when they say 31-year-old Eric Thomes fled to an outbuilding on the property and refused to come out.

Eric Thomes (Stearns County Jail photo)

Officers tried to contact Thomes for several hours. Shortly before 7:00 p.m., agents entered the building and found Thomes dead of suicide by hanging.

The follow-up investigation led to the 20-gauge shotgun at a separate property.  BCA laboratory experts say it is the gun likely used to kill Decker.

BCA Superintendent Wade Setter says Thomes is a person of interest in Decker's killing but the investigation is still active and ongoing.

Setter says Thomes' vehicle is similar to the black van they were looking for, which was spotted leaving the Winner's Bar parking lot shortly after the shooting.

Police are looking for information on any activities or notable actions taken by Thomes between the week prior to Decker's killing and Thomes' death Wednesday.

Here is a map to Thomes' residence in the Cold Spring area:

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