WASECA, MINNESOTA- With all the negativity in the news of late, it’s nice to take a minute and breathe in some good.
So let’s do that.
An injured officer out of Waseca, Minnesota is showing hopeful signs of improvement this week.
Officer Arik Matson is still in critical condition at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale following an encounter last week that left Matson with a gunshot wound to the head, but the outlook is getting better.
Matson’s pastor, Kaleb Hurley, gave a video update on Matson’s condition Wednesday. In it, Hurley said that Matson was responding to questions in small ways, like squeezing a finger or giving a thumb’s up.
“It’s a miracle that he’s alive,” Hurley said. “Make no mistake, … Arik still has a really long road ahead of him.”
But the hope is there.
Matson was shot by 37-year-old Tyler R. Janovsky, who also fired his gun at two other officers, according to police.
Janovsky is in custody and has been charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder. The bullet entered the front of Matson’s head and exited the back.
The swelling has been going down inside Matson’s head, which has allowed doctors to run more tests. A friend posted on his Caring Bridge site that “he’s making tremendous strides, even the Neuro team is impressed.”
Hurley, too, said that the hospital staff is encouraged by the progress Matson has already showed.
Community members rallied together in support of each other. These school hockey teams are setting an example that so many others across the Nation could emulate. #BetterTogether pic.twitter.com/PVe4HmG9QZ
— National FOP (@GLFOP) January 17, 2020
Matson is 32-years-old and has a wife and two young daughters. He is also the son of retired Albert Lea Police Officer Tim Matson.
Matson has been with Waseca PD since 2013 and has served on the drug investigative unit SWAT team, as a school resource officer, and in the DARE program. The family has been shown overwhelming support from their local communities…
…from a GoFundMe page (which has raised over $175,000 at the time of this writing) to houses displaying blue lights on their front porch.
On the GoFundMe page, organizer Abbey Hullopeter wrote:
“Last night Officer Arik Matson was shot in the line of duty. He is currently at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale receiving urgent medical attention. Megan, Audrina, and Maklynn and the entire Matson Family need support during this hard time.
We have set up this fund to help the family with medical expenses and everyday needs (Gas money, bills, groceries) while Arik is in the hospital. Any support and prayers are greatly appreciated. If you want to donate directly to the family, please contact me.”
The Fraternal Order of Police has praised local schools in Waseca, whose boys and girls hockey teams are both dedicating their season to Officer Matson. Both teams are changing jerseys to show their support.
Jim Kilpatrick with Gemini Athletic Wear is donating the newly designed uniforms to the schools. In a TV news interview, Kilpatrick said:
“I hope we can bring some light…for what these phenomenal officers do for us on a day to day basis.”
Matson’s name is on the back of the jerseys, and on the front it says Waseca Police, with a blue line in the center of “Waseca.” His badge number is embroidered in a badge on the front of the jersey as well, and a picture of Matson and his two girls is sewn inside where a tag would normally go.
Head coach for the boys hockey team Chris Storey spoke to reporters about the mid-season change.
“To be honest with you, [I’m] a little bit awestruck, he said. “Every player was on board. These are 16, 17, 18 year old kids and it gives them an opportunity to support something that’s bigger than them as well.
We support the people that support us.”
After the season, the jerseys will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to Officer Matson’s family.
“Don’t take for granted the people that are around you. You know, he’s been a part of our community, he’s our DARE officer, in the school. He pops in here and there into the arena…It’s easy to walk past people and not realize that they’re a bigger deal to you than you could possibly imagine.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Steve Seipp is the Freeborn fire chief and also works as a police officer in nearby Wells. Speaking to the Star Tribune on the support shown to Matson, he said:
“There gets to be more and more every day. It shows the community supports Arik and all of law enforcement. When you patrol in the middle of the night and you come by a house and you see blue light, it gives you a real warm feeling inside. It’s a silent thumbs up.”
A blue thumbs up to match Matson’s.
Matson and his partners initially encountered the shooter, Janovsky, on a suspicious person call. Janovsky was in a backyard shining a flashlight.
He had an active warrant for drug related charges, specifically methamphetamine. In the weeks prior, a meth lab was discovered in Janovsky’s basement during a probation check following his release from prison. Janovsky fled at that time (hence the warrant) but authorities recovered a gun, meth manufacturing materials, pills, and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Janovsky also reportedly has a long and violent criminal history, including a naked home burglary. No, that’s not some newfangled law term. He was literally naked when he burglarized a house and fought with one of the residents.
Among a laundry list of drug crimes, Janovsky was also connected to a strangulation-murder, and was convicted of being an accessory to second-degree murder.
He was also shot during the incident with Matson and the other officers but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Let’s hope this incident finally finds Janovsky behind bars for good.