PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Officer Timothy Matson is a veteran Pittsburgh police officer known for keeping his cool under pressure and using humor to defuse tense situations. He was one of four officers wounded while responding to a homicidal gunman Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, reported Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Matson cracked jokes in his hospital room Sunday, a day after he was shot multiple times and critically injured while confronting the shooter who killed 11 people.

“We were in his hospital room today, visiting, and as soon as we walk in he’s already cracking jokes,” Cmdr. Jason Lando said. “He’s in that situation, where his life is the one in danger, and everyone is so worried about him — but he’s cracking jokes and it makes everyone feel better.”

That’s just the type of guy he is, Lando said. Matson joined the department in 2005 and was assigned to Zone 5. He has been a part of the city’s SWAT team since 2016.

“When bullets are flying and people’s lives are in danger, Tim Matson is the guy you want going through the door,” according to Lando. “He’s the guy who goes in and calmly gets the job done.”


Pittsburgh Bureau of Police SWAT team member Timothy Matson was severely injured during the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. (Pittsburgh Bureau of Police)

Matson is one of four officers injured during the attack. Zone 4 Officer Michael Smidga was wounded, as were a second patrol officer and second member of the SWAT team, who remain unnamed.

Two of the wounded officers have been released from the hospital, police said Sunday. The other two face longer recoveries, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said. He and others praised the officers’ actions during the shooting, and said they saved lives.

“I still want to praise the officers for what they did,” Schubert said during a news conference Sunday morning. “They ran into danger. They ran into gunfire to help others. Some of that is training, some of that is experience but it’s their inner core that wants them to help others, that wants to save lives and they did that yesterday.”

The local FOP also praised their actions.

“They were heroic,” said Bob Swartzwelder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1. “They engaged in a substantial gunfight at the doorway, they engaged and suffered some serious injuries, both patrol and SWAT, at great peril to themselves.”

Sources told WPXI that Matson was shot seven times and his helmet may have saved his life.

Moreover, Matson is a Krav Maga Worldwide Instructor and Krav Maga Worldwide Force Training Division Instructor for law enforcement at Wright’s Gym in Crafton, Pa. The gym also said that Matson trains various specialties of martial arts in the Pittsburgh area and is a defensive tactics and Taser instructor for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, in addition to being a member of the SWAT team, reported Jui-Jitsu Times.

They said the following about his condition:

He was the first one through the door the day of the shooting. He was shot several times. His body armor and Kevlar helmet saved his life. His body armor took several rifle rounds to the chest/abdominal area and his Kevlar helmet took the rifle round to the head. Additionally, he took several hits to the legs and arms. He is still currently in another surgery and will have many surgeries in the coming months. He is expected to survive his injuries but there is a significant likelihood that he will never return to work.

One of Matson’s former students, Officer Kristen Richmond (a BJJ practitioner who made headlines when she used her martial arts training to defend herself in a violent encounter) wrote a post detailing how Matson’s teachings had helped her survive her own attack while on the job.

Donations are currently being raised to help cover Matson’s medical and recovery expenses. You can learn more and donate here if desired.Top of Form

Also wounded in Saturday’s attack were Andrea Wedner, 61, whose 97-year-old mother, Rose Mallinger, was killed, and Daniel Leger, 70, who was shot in the torso.

Ms. Wedner and Mr. Leger both remained hospitalized Sunday. Mr. Leger, who is a nurse and UPMC chaplain, remained in critical condition following surgery at UPMC Presbyterian, his brother Paul Leger said. He likely will undergo additional procedures.

Paul Leger said his brother had been expected to lead a service Saturday morning at Tree of Life.