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Murder suspect is victim’s former partner in business and life

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — A Boston Scientific executive was shot and killed at a gas station in a Minneapolis suburb, and authorities were seeking a business partner of his.

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

Kelly Phillips

Lyle "Ty" Hoffman is wanted in connection with Kelly Phillips' murder.

Lyle “Ty” Hoffman is wanted in connection with Kelly Phillips’ murder.

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 in the head as the victim 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.

Police identified a suspect in the shooting as Lyle “Ty” Hoffman, a 44-year-old commercial developer, and distributed a picture of him and asked people with information to call the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. 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.

Phillips had filed an eviction complaint against Hoffman in Hennepin County housing court in February, and Hoffman was evicted in April, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

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.

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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 doors for marriage equality, making phone calls, raising money.”

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