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Is Blaine bank robber Ty Hoffman? Authorities think so

Authorities think the bank robber, right, is Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, left. (Courtesy images)
Authorities think the bank robber, right, is Lyle "Ty" Hoffman, left. (Courtesy images)The man wanted in an August shooting death at an Arden Hills gas station is believed to be the same man who robbed a TCF Bank on Sunday in Blaine, authorities said Monday.

Authorities said suspected murderer Lyle "Ty" Hoffman matches the description and picture of the armed robber who escaped from the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.

"We do think it's Ty Hoffman," Ramsey County sheriff's Sgt. John Eastham said Monday.

Hoffman, 44, is suspected of killing Kelly Phillips, 48, on Aug. 11 in the parking lot of a gas station on County Highway 96.

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 relationships soured, though, and they had largely parted ways.

Kelly L. Phillips (Courtesy photo)
Kelly L. Phillips (Courtesy photo)

Phillips, an executive at Boston Scientific, was due to marry another man not long after he was killed.

On Monday, the Blaine Police Department issued a news release saying a TCF Bank branch in the 300 block of County Road 10 NE in Blaine had been robbed at gunpoint at 2:01 p.m. Sunday.

The suspect and the money may have been stained by a red dye packet concealed in the money, police said.

Surveillance footage from the scene shows a suspect who matches the description of Hoffman. Authorities searched the area after the robbery but were unable to find the suspect.

Blaine Police, the Anoka County and Ramsey County sheriff's offices, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI were investigating.

Authorities have asked the public to be on the lookout for Hoffman, who might be armed and dangerous.

A reported sighting in Thunder Bay earlier this month turned out to be a false alarm.

Friends and family of Phillips have contributed $25,000 to a fund seeking information about his murder.

He was buried Aug. 16 in his hometown of Mason City, Iowa.

Hundreds of people attended his memorial service Thursday at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis.

Anyone with information on either Phillips' death or the Blaine bank robbery is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information can be shared anonymously.

The search for Hoffman continued Monday night, said Sgt. Rob Allen of the Ramsey County sheriff's office.

"We are not ending searches until we find the guy, but it's a different kind of search at night," Allen said shortly after 9 p.m.

"There are a number of places that we're looking."

The Blaine area is the focus of the search, he added.

"We're hoping people who may see something suspicious or out of place will call 911 -- that will help us immensely," Allen said.