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Police seek ex-boyfriend in fatal shooting of Minn. exec

Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, above, has been named a suspect in the shooting death of his one-time business and romantic partner, Kelly Phillips. CBS Minnesota

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. -- A Boston Scientific executive was shot and killed at a gas station in a Minneapolis suburb Monday, and authorities were seeking his one-time business and romantic partner in connection with the crime.

Kelly Phillips, 48, worked for the medical device company in its Arden Hills, Minn., office. The gas station where the shooting happened is about two blocks away.

A witness, Josh Polos, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had stopped to get gas Monday morning when a BMW pulled in behind him and he heard what he thought was someone yelling at him. Polos said he got out to signal that he was filling up his tank, and the car pulled past his sport utility vehicle and into a parking spot.

Polos said two men got out of the car, and the driver shot the other man three times. The driver fired first as the two were alongside the car, then as the passenger began running and finally at the victim's head as he pleaded for his life, Polos said.

Then the shooter got back into the car, backed up, sped forward and ran over the victim, he said.

"The guy went right over the top of him and shot him in the back of the head, literally in broad daylight," another witness, Frank Antencio, told CBS Minnesota. "Right in the back of the head. He got in the car and it looked like he was struggling to get the car in gear or whatever, backed up, then ran over the guy's legs as he was leaving and took off on 96."

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Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, left, has been named a suspect in the shooting death of his one-time business and romantic partner, Kelly Phillips, right.
WCCO
Police identified a suspect in the shooting as Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, a 44-year-old commercial developer. Friends told CBS Minnesota that Hoffman was Phillips' ex-boyfriend. Police distributed Hoffman's picture and asked people with information to call the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. Hoffman's whereabouts are unknown, and no one has yet been charged in the case.

Blaine police received a tip Tuesday about noon that the suspect may have been at the Anoka County Airport. But a search of two hangars came up empty.

Hoffman and Phillips opened a gay bar in Minneapolis five years ago called the Lush Food Bar. A Lavender magazine article about the opening described the two as "life partners" as well as partners in the bar.

Kathy Simon, Phillips' ex-wife, told the Star-Tribune that Hoffman and Phillips broke up their romantic relationship about three years ago, but maintained a business partnership surrounding Lush Food Bar.

Phillips once told her that "Ty was sort of violent and that he [Phillips] was ending the relationship," reports the paper.

Since the breakup, she told the paper, "there were money [conflicts], and things were getting a little crazy, it seemed."

The business partnership continued until several months ago. Phillips evicted Hoffman from a northeast Minneapolis residence that he owned in April, around the time the business relationship dissolved, reports the paper.

Boston Scientific spokeswoman Denise Kaigler said in an email that employees have been devastated by Phillips' death.

"Kelly will be remembered not only for his great skills as a lawyer, but also for his kindness, gentleness and ability to make those around him feel better about themselves," she said. "He will be sorely missed by his many friends here at Boston Scientific."

Phillips' father, Jim Phillips, of Mason City, Iowa, told the Star Tribune that his son had planned to marry his partner, Nathon Bailey, in a few weeks. The shift from planning a wedding to a funeral was difficult, he said.

The Lush Food Bar posted a statement on its website saying it was closed Tuesday in Phillips' memory. The statement called him "a driving force in the community" and said the nightclub would reopen Wednesday.

"We would like to extend our sympathies to Kelly's family; his fiance Nathon and to his many friends," the statement said.

Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the area that includes the club, told The Associated Press the city has lost "an extraordinary community member" who had been active in the neighborhood and the push for gay marriage in Minnesota.

"He was heavily involved in his local neighborhood association, not for any business interests but just to benefit the community. ... He was warm; he was gentle. Even in passionate and heated moments in the neighborhood, whether it was about an issue, he was always a voice of reason and level-headed. And he would go out of his way to work tirelessly for causes he believed in. I remember him knocking on doors for marriage equality, making phone calls, raising money."

Anyone with information regarding Hoffman's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 651-266-7320 or 911.

  • Crimesider Staff

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