WASECA, Minnesota — The police officer shot and wounded in a residential neighborhood here Monday night was “gravely wounded” during an encounter with a wanted felon and was in critical but stable condition Tuesday morning.
The gunfire occurred shortly after 8 p.m. as four police officers responded to a call of a suspicious person with a flashlight in the backyard of a home in the 900 block of 4th Avenue SE. in the city 75 miles south of the Twin Cities. The suspect, Tyler R. Janovsky, 37, of Waseca, was soon found in a neighboring block, the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said at a news conference here Tuesday.
Officer Arik Matson, 32, was shot in the head, said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. Matson was flown by air ambulance to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, Evans said. A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist his family.
“At one point during the encounter with him, officer Matson was shot, the officers then shot Mr. Janovsky,” Evans said.
Janovsky was shot twice. He was taken by ambulance to North Memorial and is expected to survive, Evans said.
Janovsky has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for burglary, drug crimes, terroristic threats and accessory to murder. Evans said Janovsky had an active arrest warrant at the time of the shooting.
Evans said witnesses to the shooting have yet to be interviewed by BCA investigators. The agency said Waseca police officers do not wear body cameras and it has yet to be determined whether squad cameras captured the incident. Once the investigation is complete, the BCA said, the findings will be forwarded to the Waseca County Attorney’s Office for review of the officers’ actions.
Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought said Matson, a husband and father, has been with the department since 2013 and is assigned to the patrol unit and south central drug investigative unit SWAT team, and also serves as a DARE officer.
“I’ve heard it and said it, ‘This is the worst nightmare a law enforcement agency can face,’ and we’re living it right now,” Vought said. “We have to remain strong and diligent; we still have a job to do. We’re still going to respond to calls in the city of Waseca and be responsive but help one another too.”
The gunfire came three weeks after police raided Janovsky’s home in the 200 block of 11th Street SE. They came away with several grams of methamphetamine, nearly 900 pills of pseudoephedrine, marijuana, 30 grams of psilocybin “psychedelic” mushrooms, a handgun, various drug paraphernalia and instructions for making meth.
A younger brother’s warning of about the arrival of police allowed Janovsky to escape out a basement door, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Janovsky was charged in absentia on Dec. 27 with numerous felony counts involving the production and sale of meth and was being sought as a fugitive at the time of Monday night’s incident.
Janovsky’s criminal history in Minnesota also includes pleading guilty to being an accessory to murder in the 2001 strangulation of a 21-year-old man in nearby Truman who was robbed of $200 and a small amount of marijuana. Janovsky admitted driving Morgan Schulz to the victim’s home and waiting outside while Schulz killed Rickey Buker. Janovsky was given a 3 ¼-year term.
Officer raised in Albert Lea
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, whose district includes Waseca, wrote on Facebook that he was in touch overnight with Arik’s father, retired Albert Lea police officer Tim Matson.
“The work of our police officers can be exceptionally difficult and unpredictable,” Hagedorn said in a posting. “Dealing with illicit illegal drug use and trafficking, people suffering from mental illness, and felony crimes perpetrated by evil people far too often place the lives of those who protect and serve at risk.”
Arik Matson became a licensed officer in Minnesota in 2010, public records show. He joined the Waseca police force in November 2013 on a part-time basis and was promoted to full-time in early 2015, according to a city manager’s report at the time. He was elevated “from among highly regarded and qualified candidates for the position,” the report to the mayor and City Council noted.
In early 2010, Arik and Tim Matson both worked the night shift with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, according to an Albert Lea Tribune profile of the son and fathe.
Arik Matson graduated from Albert Lea High School in 2006, was in the police explorer’s program and interned with the Albert Lea Police Department, according to the article. He then earned his law enforcement degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato, and worked security for the Minnesota Vikings when their preseason camp was located in Mankato. He and Megan Joyce were married in Cancun, Mexico in 2014, according to the Albert Lea Tribune.
Residents in Waseca, where Matson is a “much beloved” school resource officer, were shocked and saddened Tuesday morning by news of the shooting.
Deb Nygaard, a waitress at the Pheasant Café downtown, said Matson came in often to dine with his family.
“His wife and his two young kids would come in and wait for the daddy to come in for his lunch hour,” Nygaard said. “Such a nice family.”
Waseca police, the State Patrol and the BCA were among the agencies responding to the scene Monday.
Early Tuesday, yellow police tape still cordoned off the tree-lined block where the incident took place.
Marty Buum, who lives two doors away from where the shootings occurred, said he and his wife were entertaining several couples at the time of the incident and did not hear any shots. He said they became aware that something was going on nearby when they noticed emergency flashing lights just after 8 p.m.
“Pretty soon more and more emergency vehicles showed up, and police and police, and we thought, ‘OK, this is more than an ambulance,’ ” Buum said Tuesday morning.
Buum described the neighborhood as “close knit,” with most of the residents having lived there for many years.
Staff Writer Dan Browning contributed to this report.
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