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Search for Arden Hills homicide suspect comes up empty

Lyle “Ty” Hoffman

BLAINE, Minn. - Sparked by a report of an early morning sighting in the area, authorities Tuesday combed the area surrounding the Blaine airport in search of the man suspected of gunning down his former boyfriend and business partner outside an Arden Hills gas station last month.

Lyle “Ty” Hoffman has been on the run since the fatal shooting Aug. 11. Efforts to find him intensified early Tuesday after a Blaine police officer spotted someone resembling the 44-year-old Hoffman in a wooded area near a fence on the Anoka County-Blaine Airport property around 5 a.m., according to Sgt. John Eastham, spokesman with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.  

Gates to the airport were closed as SWAT team officers searched the area.

A search also was conducted at a nearby bus garage after Blaine police received a report of an attempted break-in there, Eastham said.

Hoffman was not found and the immediate search was called off Tuesday evening.

“We looked for him today and we are going to keep looking for him,” Eastham said. “As you can see from our response today, we take all leads seriously, so if anyone has any information, please call 911.”

The sighting came on the heels of an armed robbery Sunday at a TCF Bank in Blaine in which Hoffman is the lead suspect.

A man matching his description reportedly held up the bank before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of money.

Hoffman’s apparent continued presence in the Twin Cities area leads authorities to suspect he is getting help to evade capture, Eastham said. He added that anyone enabling the fugitive faces criminal charges.

“We believe we will catch him, it’s only a matter of time,” Eastham said. “If we find out after the fact that you have been helping (Hoffman), we will seek prosecution at both the state and federal level.”

Hoffman is suspected of slaying Kelly Phillips outside a Holiday gas station.

The two men were former life partners who opened Lush Food Bar, a popular gay bar in Northeast Minneapolis, in 2009. Their personal and business relationship eventually soured, and they had largely parted ways before the shooting.

Phillips, 48, was also a top executive at Boston Scientific and an advocate for gay rights in the Twin Cities.

Police searched the Blaine airport the day after the homicide after the car linked to the shooting was found nearby.

Phillips’ family and friends have contributed $25,000 to a fund seeking information about his slaying.

Hoffman is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about his whereabouts or the crimes he is suspected of committing is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. Information can be shared anonymously.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.