One big family gathers to support a badly injured officer
Folks from across the region found out last week just exactly how big the law enforcement family is.
Just days after Waseca officer Arik Matson, 32, was shot in the head by a suspect in a disturbance call, police officers, deputies, firefighters and others gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Waseca Public Safety Building. Hundreds of people attended to stand in support of the injured officer.
Among those who attended the vigil was Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele along with numerous firefighters from Owatonna. A similar vigil was held at the same time just 30 miles down the road in Matson’s hometown of Albert Lea. Thiele sent a couple deputies to that gathering.
Those in the crowd at Waseca, which included many children, held candles and flags as they heard from the city’s mayor and Matson’s pastor.
“It was tremendous community support,” Thiele said. “To know people showed up who didn’t even know him is amazing.”
Peace officers belong to “a big family,” Thiele said. “The law enforcement family is all over. It doesn’t matter what color uniform you wear, we’re all family,” he said. He added he has never met Matson before.
Thiele says it’s overwhelming to see the support for Matson coming from not only law enforcement, but the community as a whole. “People showed up that didn’t even know him,” the sheriff pointed out. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Arik’s family,” he added.
In addition to the vigils, billboards have also begun popping up around the area, including Owatonna, Waseca and Faribault to show “Matson Strong” support from all over.
When such a tragedy happens, Thiele said for police officers, “it heightens your alert when you go to any kind of call.” Fortunately, such incidents like the one last week in Waseca, are rare across southern Minnesota. However, they have happened before in both Steele and Dodge counties over the years with even more tragic results. The police chief in Blooming Prairie was shot to death in 1956 while Dodge County has lost several officers, including Claremont police chief Gregory Lange in 1988.
The suspect in the Waseca shooting, Tyler R. Janovsky, 37, has been charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder of a police officer and one count of possessing ammunition or a firearm after conviction of a crime of violence.
I encourage everyone to remember our police officers for their heroism in protecting our communities. They have an incredibly difficult job and need all the support we can offer.
Please join me in praying for Officer Matson as he goes in hot pursuit of recovering from a horrific incident.