The suspect in the death of Dr. Stephen Larson expressed hostility toward the doctor before shooting him to death last week, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Monday.
Larson, 74, a gynecological surgeon, was killed in his home at 1005 Heritage Lane in Orono just before 9 p.m. Friday.
Authorities say Larson was in his house, talking on the phone when he went to answer his door. "The person on the other end of the line heard some words, some noises. The doctor never came back to the open phone line," Stanek told reporters. "That caller disconnected and contacted local police who then responded."
When Orono police arrived at Larson's house, they found Ted Hoffstrom, 30, of St. Anthony, armed with a handgun, Stanek said. After what Stanek described as diligent attempts to negotiate with Hoffstrom, shots were fired and the suspect died at the scene.
Stanek would not give details about a motive, but said Hoffstrom's mother had been Larson's patient at one point in time and that Hoffstrom "had recently expressed hostility to his family members regarding Dr. Larson." Stanek would not elaborate on the nature of that hostility, nor would he say what type of medical care Hoffstrom's mother received.
Those who knew Dr. Larson are asking why anyone would want to kill him.
Larson's life was his work, and his coworkers were a second family, said Sandy Kamin, administrator at OB/GYN Specialists -- the practice in Edina and Burnsville Larson founded in the early 1980s
"I heard from so many people how he asked about their families," Kamin said. "He knew husbands' names and kids' names and animals' names and just really cared about his staff as people and he also cared about his patients as people."
Hoffstrom's family members are not speaking with the media. People who knew him from his time as a law student say the news about their former classmate came as a shock.
"He was quiet, but he was not a loner. Quiet confidence is how I describe him," said Erbayne Jarvis, 52, a Brooklyn Park attorney who graduated from the University of St. Thomas law school with Hoffstrom in 2009.
He said he knew Hoffstrom him well, but that the two lost touch after graduation.
"I just cannot imagine that the Ted I knew would come up with this," Jarvis added.
A database of Minnesota attorneys shows Hoffstrom was admitted to the bar Oct. 25, three weeks to the day before the Orono shooting.
Four Orono police officers, including Chief Correy Farniok, are on routine administrative leave following the shooting, which Stanek called an isolated incident.
"Mr. Hoffstrom is the one and only suspect in the death of Dr. Larson," said Stanek. "Orono is a safe community and there is no threat to the public."