Argument over social distancing leads to death of Minnesota hockey coach, police say

minnesota man murders high school hockey coach after social distancing argument
Source: Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars

Apr. 22 2021, Updated 8:59 a.m. ET

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An argument over social distancing at a Minnesota bar led to a fight outside the bar and a man's death, according to authorities.

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Police say Ryan John Whisler, 44, and Michael G. Ryan, 48, both went to the bathroom at the same time in the bar on April 17.

In the bathroom, some of the urinals are covered in cellophane to encourage social distancing, court records stated and reported by the New York Post. 

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However, authorities said Whisler took a cellphone video of himself urinating at a covered urinal, which upset Ryan.

He did not say anything to Whisler at the time, but Ryan later called him out when Whisler was leaving the bar, police said.

That led to an argument between the two men, which continued outside, authorities said.

While outside, Whisler allegedly pulled Ryan’s mask from his face while grabbing his shirt and punched him once in the face, the New York Post reported.

The punch caused Ryan to fall backward down a set of nine stairs and he hit his head on concrete, according to authorities.

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Police responded to the scene and found Ryan on his back in a “pool of fresh blood” at the bottom of the steps, police said.

Authorities said Ryan was rushed to a hospital and was diagnosed with a brain injury that doctors said he could not survive. He was removed from life support on April 18.

Ryan’s death was ruled a homicide due to a traumatic brain injury and Whistler surrendered to the police on April 18, according to authorities.

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Whistler was charged with second-degree murder and released after he posted $300,000 bail. 

If convicted, Whisler faces up to 40 years in prison.

Ryan was the head girl's hockey coach at Bloomington Jefferson High School in Blooming. The team released a statement on social media after his death. 

"He will be dearly missed by his wife and daughters and the Bloomington hockey community," it read.

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