WASECA, Minn. (AP) — A police officer in southern Minnesota was gravely injured when he was shot in the head while responding to a report of a suspicious person, officials said Tuesday.
Officer Arik Matson, 32, was shot at about 8 p.m. Monday in Waseca, and was taken by air to a hospital in Robbinsdale, where he was in critical but stable condition Tuesday, according to Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans.
The suspect, 37-year-old Tyler Robert Janovsky, was shot twice by other officers at the scene and was flown to the same hospital. Evans said Janovsky’s injuries were not life-threatening. He has not been charged.
Matson and three other officers were responding to a call of a suspicious person with a flashlight in a residential backyard, Evans said. Officers saw Janovsky on a neighboring property, and “at one point during the encounter with him, Officer Matson was shot. Officers then shot Mr. Janovsky,” he said.
Evans said authorities are still piecing together why Janovsky was in the backyard. He did not live at the house.
Janovsky was wanted on drug-related charges. Three weeks ago, police raided his house and found several grams of methamphetamine, nearly 900 pseudoephedrine pills, other drugs and a handgun. A search warrant affidavit says a brother warned Janovsky, and he fled out a basement door.
While a warrant was out for Janovsky, Evans said officers didn’t know who they were dealing with when they were called to the scene.
Janovsky has several previous convictions, including for burglary, drug crimes and for making terrorist threats. He also was convicted of one count of being an accessory to murder in the 2001 strangulation of a 21-year-old man. The Star Tribune reports that Janovsky admitted driving another man to the victim’s home and waiting outside during the killing.
Waseca police officers do not wear body cameras, but Evans said authorities will determine whether there is squad camera video of the incident.
Matson has been with the Waseca Police Department since 2013 and is assigned to patrol. He is also a member of a regional drug investigative SWAT team and worked in a program designed to keep kids away from drugs, Chief Penny Vought said. He is married and is a father. Minnesota Public Radio News reported that he is also a volunteer firefighter in Freeborn.
“This is the worst nightmare a law enforcement agency can face,” Vought said. “And we’re living it right now.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn tweeted Tuesday that he spoke with Matson’s father, a retired officer, overnight.
“On behalf of all southern Minnesotans, I offered our deepest concerns and prayers for Arik and his family,” Hagedorn tweeted.
According to the Star Tribune, Matson became a licensed officer in Minnesota in 2010. He joined the Waseca Police Department in 2013 and worked part-time. He became a full-time officer in 2015.
Early in his career, Matson worked at the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and was on night patrol with his father, Tim Matson, who was then a corporal with the Albert Lea Police Department, the Albert Lea Tribune reported in 2010. The article said Arik Matson also worked security for the Minnesota Vikings when their preseason camp was in Mankato.
Waseca is a city of about 9,400 located 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Minneapolis.