The Waseca police officer gravely wounded when he was shot Jan. 6 while responding to a suspicious-person call is showing fresh signs of progress but also faces further surgeries, his family says on his CaringBridge site.
Arik Matson, 32, was shot in the upper right forehead, his family wrote. The bullet exited behind his right ear. Initial surgery at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, where he remained in the ICU on Saturday, removed bone fragments and a portion of his brain.
Relative Nicole Matson wrote that Arik was able to sit up with help from physical and occupational therapists and is "much more comfortable and resting" after having had a breathing tube removed and having undergone a tracheostomy, a procedure that involves creating an opening in the neck below the vocal cords to place a tube in the windpipe.
He also is being treated for pneumonia, she said, adding, "He's still breathing on his own with a little help from the ventilator from time to time when he tires out."
In a week or two he will undergo reconstructive surgery to mend skull fractures, she said.
"Arik got a special package today from Minnesota Vikings (the third one he's gotten so I think they know he's a super fan!)," Nicole wrote. "It was an official MN Vikings helmet, signed by one of Arik's favorite players, Adam Thielen! He's going to be stoked to see that. Overall, it's been a good day and we're happy to see him a lot more comfortable."
Matson was shot as he and three other officers responded to a call about a suspicious person roaming through backyards in Waseca.
Tyler R. Janovsky, 37, the man suspected of shooting him and firing his gun at two other officers, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He also was shot, but has been released from the hospital and is at Oak Park Heights prison.
Earlier this week, Matson's pastor, the Rev. Kaleb Hurley, said in a video update that the officer was showing many small signs of recovery, squeezing a finger or giving a thumbs-up in response to questions. But, Hurley added, "Make no mistake ... Arik still has a really long road ahead of him."
Matson's family also issued a warning against a fake GoFundMe page that has been set up mimicking an authentic one set up by Abbey Hullopeter. The real GoFundMe page is at gofundme.com/arik-matson-family. As of Saturday, more than $182,000 had been raised to help with Matson's medical and family expenses. Matson and his wife, Megan, are the parents of two small daughters, Audrina and Maklynn.
The Matsons live in Freeborn, 25 miles south of Waseca, where he serves on the City Council and is a volunteer firefighter. He graduated from Albert Lea High School, where he was in the police explorer's program and interned with the Albert Lea Police Department.
The communities in which he lives and works, as well as law enforcement officers and families from far and wide, have rallied around Matson's family, holding prayer services and vigils, turning on blue lights nightly, and showering them with support.
Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290