Authorities have filed charges in a brazen attack that left a Twin Cities news anchor with serious damage to his left eye.
Matt Belanger, who reports for KSTP, was on his way to work last week when a man near the Nicollet Mall light-rail platform threw an object and struck the journalist in the head.
On Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office charged 39-year-old Vennie Williams third-degree assault and harassment, "because his attack was motivated by bias against what he believed the man’s sexual orientation to be," according to a press release.
The criminal charges say that while Belanger was walking across the light-rail platform, Williams, who was about three feet away from him, "suddenly cocked his right arm back and threw what Victim thought was a rock directly at him."
Police officers soon found Williams several blocks away. Belanger positively identified him as the attacker; additionally, surveillance footage "clearly captured the assault."
He was then arrested, and "began speaking spontaneously" while in the back of the squad car, telling police "he had assaulted Victim because he perceived that Victim was homosexual," the charges say.
Both charges carry up to five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Williams is currently in custody.
As for Belanger, the attack left him with Traumatic Hyphema of the left eye and Traumatic Iritis, requiring him to convalesce at home with numerous restrictions on his physical movement. According to the charges, "he will remain at risk for serious medical complications involving the injured eye for many years to come."
Nonetheless, on Thursday, he posted a Facebook announcement saying he expects a full recovery — and thanking viewers for their well-wishes: