A 43-year-old St. Paul man has been charged with murder in the death of a Bloomington high school hockey coach.
Bloomington Jefferson’s girls hockey coach, 48-year-old Mike Ryan, has been identified as the victim of an assault outside of a St. Paul bar. He died after being punched by Ryan Whisler, according to the criminal complaint filed April 19 in Ramsey County District Court.
The confrontation between Ryan and Whisler stemmed from an incident inside the restroom of Herbie’s on the Park in St. Paul at approximately 11 p.m. April 17, the complaint noted. Ryan was at the bar with friends and went to the restroom. In the restroom, Whisler reportedly punched a hole in a piece of cellophane, which was covering a urinal in an effort to provide social distancing. He then took a cellphone video of himself urinating, the complaint states.
According to Ryan’s friends, Ryan did not confront Whisler at the time, but addressed him as the group was leaving the bar, which led to a verbal confrontation. The confrontation seemed to calm down as the men and their friends exited the bar, until Whisler pulled Ryan’s mask from his face and grabbed his shirt, the complaint details.
Ryan’s two friends and Whisler’s friend were trying to separate the men when Whisler reportedly punched Ryan in the face. Ryan fell down stairs and landed on concrete. At that point one of Ryan’s friends said he was calling the police, prompting Whisler and his friend to flee in a blue hatchback. Whisler returned to pick up an unspecified object from the stairs before leaving again, according to the complaint.
A woman at the bar told the police she had met Whisler prior to the Minnesota Wild hockey game, and met up with him after the game. Whisler was not arrested at the scene, but was identified through the cellphone number the woman provided. A credit card transaction inside the bar also linked Whisler to the incident, which was captured by surveillance video, the complaint explained.
Police officers responding to the incident found Ryan on his back in a pool of fresh blood at the bottom of a flight of nine steps. He was transported to Regions Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain injury he would not recover from. He was placed on life support to allow for his family to be notified, and died at the hospital on April 18 when he was removed from life support, according to the complaint.
Whisler turned himself in on April 18 and declined to give a statement. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office reported Ryan’s cause of death was a traumatic brain injury due to the fall, and classified the death as a homicide.
Whisler was charged with second-degree murder, without intent, while committing a felony. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.
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