Arden Hills homicide, robbery suspect reportedly seen in Prior Lake
ST. PAUL - Less than 24 hours after he reportedly was seen lurking along a fence line at the Blaine airport, the man wanted in a shooting death last month in Arden Hills might have resurfaced at a casino in Prior Lake, police said.
Authorities descended Wednesday on the suburban community after receiving three reports of a man matching the description of 44-year-old murder suspect Lyle “Ty” Hoffman.
The first report put Hoffman inside Mystic Lake Casino on Tuesday, Ramsey County Chief Sheriff's Deputy John Kirkwood said.
In the second report early Wednesday morning, officers who had set up a stakeout at the casino spotted someone resembling the fugitive crouching in weeds in nearby woods. When ordered to stop, the man fled, Kirkwood said.
The third sighting came from a person who claimed to see Hoffman standing near a driveway on Wilds Parkway and Fox Tail Trail in a Prior Lake neighborhood about a mile from the casino. Shortly after, the individual reported a light-colored SUV pull up and someone resembling Hoffman climb inside. However, authorities said later Wednesday that there was no connection between the vehicle and Hoffman.
Authorities surrounded the area Wednesday morning, and officers searched the vicinity on foot and from a helicopter. The search was called off late Wednesday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, we did not find him,” Kirkwood said.
He said the length of the search was not surprising. “Not everybody is caught right away,” he said.
On Sunday, a man matching Hoffman’s description robbed a TCF Bank in Blaine. Two days later, a Blaine police officer reported spotting him near a fence near the Anoka County-Blaine Airport. A search came up empty.
It’s unclear how Hoffman would have made his way across the metro area undetected, but investigators suspect he might be relying on public transportation, Kirkwood said.
“For lack of a better term, he’s been very lucky,” Kirkwood said.
He said Hoffman has cut off all communication with his former day-to-day life, making it challenging to track him. Authorities also suspect someone is helping him evade capture.
No information was immediately available about what may have brought him to Mystic Lake Casino or whether he might have gambled while he reportedly was inside.
Hoffman is accused of gunning down his former boyfriend and business partner, Kelly Phillips, outside a Holiday gas station Aug. 11.
The two opened Lush Food Bar, a popular gay bar in Northeast Minneapolis, in 2009 while they were still together. They broke up a few years ago, but Hoffman continued to run operations at the bar until their business relationship soured about a year ago.
Phillips, a 48-year-old executive at Boston Scientific, was scheduled to marry another man weeks after he was slain.
Anyone who sees someone resembling Hoffman is asked to call 911, even if they’re not certain it’s Hoffman, Kirkwood said.
“Please, you are not bothering us. … This is our job,” he said.
Phillips’ family and friends have given $25,000 to a fund seeking information about his slaying.
Anonymous tips can be submitted via Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
While Hoffman is considered armed and dangerous, Kirkwood said Wednesday that investigators do not believe he is seeking another target.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.