Updated: 09/04/2014 10:58 AM
Created: 09/03/2014 10:13 AM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
Authorities say they have not found Lyle Marvin “Ty” Hoffman after spending Wednesday morning searching for the suspected killer in the south metro. The search is over for now.
Police say someone reported a possible sighting of Hoffman in Prior Lake. He’s accused of killing his ex-boyfriend last month.
"There was a visual sighting of him," Ramsey County Chief Deputy John Kirkwood said. "Some additional information led us to believe he might have gone into some woods ... Somebody had seen an individual who had been bedded down in the weeds get up and start to run."
Teams searched on the ground, and the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter searched from the sky. The helicopter split brush and weeds, flying close to the ground and homes near Mystic Lake Casino.
Officers closed Mystic Lake Drive by Oakes Lane to traffic and asked residents to stay in their homes because of the volatile nature of the situation.
“I don’t think he’s out to hurt anyone, but obviously we have to be very safe and cautious,” Kirkwood said.
Initially, Kirkwood said one witness told authorities they may have seen Hoffman get into a silver-colored Chevrolet Trailblazer. A witness saw the SUV near the intersection of Wilds Parkway and Fox Trail, near the reported sighting of Hoffman. The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office now says the SUV is not related to the search for Hoffman. The owner of the Trailblazer came forward Wednesday afternoon.
The search for Hoffman could resume anytime, according to Kirkwood.
"For lack of a better term, he's been very lucky. We've followed up on every lead, and he's just been somewhat lucky at this point," he said. “We’re going to group up here, put our heads together to come up with leads we haven’t followed ... We’ll follow every lead we can."
Kirkwood says it is still possible that someone is helping Hoffman; however, authorities believe Hoffman could be using public transportation. He says Hoffman may have money now, because authorities suspect him in an armed bank robbery in Blaine over the weekend.
The robbery happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday at the TCF Bank on County Road 10 Northeast. Police say a man wearing a white T-shirt, baseball hat and sunglasses displayed a handgun and left with an undisclosed amount of money. Police say video footage of the incident shows the suspect matches the description of Hoffman.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Scott County Sheriff’s Office, and Prior Lake Police Department were all involved in the search.
We’ve seen tactical units, officers in full camouflage and body armor, a K-9 unit, SWAT teams and Minnesota State Patrol helicopters.
Hoffman is accused of killing his ex-boyfriend, 48-year-old Kelly Phillips, at an Arden Hills gas station last month. They drove to the gas station Aug. 11, and Phillips was shot in the head and back as he tried to run from the gunman, witnesses say.
Friends, neighbors and family members say Hoffman and Phillips were in a relationship for several years and that the relationship did not end well. Besides their romantic history, the two were also co-founders of the Lush Food Bar in Minneapolis.
Phillips was a vice president and general counsel at Boston Scientific and worked at the Arden Hills office, which is about two miles from where he was killed. He and his new fiancé were planning to marry in August.
Hoffman disappeared after the shooting.
Prosecutors have charged Hoffman with second-degree murder and issued a national warrant for his arrest.
Blaine police say Hoffman is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who sees suspicious activity or has information is asked to call 911. Authorities are emphasizing the fact that anyone who thinks they have spotted Hoffman should call authorities immediately. Some tips have been coming in too long after the sightings, making them not as helpful to police.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $25,000 reward for anyone who has information leading to Hoffman's arrest and conviction. Call 800-222-TIPS with information.