Man charged in light rail station attack on KSTP anchor Matt Belanger

The journalist suffered a serious wound to his left eye.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

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.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

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:

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 12.04.55 PM

Minnesota's COVID vaccine appointment site goes live

Huge demand was expected when the site went live at noon.

emily ford

Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 19

Two days in a row with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.52.12 AM

After fire destroyed their house, couple forced to euthanize beloved dog

The couple's daughter has launched a fundraiser for her parents.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.16.14 AM

Investigation after teacher accused of lewd act during distance learning

No charges have been filed yet and the staff member has not been identified.

cook county schools

Investigation after assistant principal displays "joke" Gadsden flag during announcements

"My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down."

Forest - orono, Minnesota

Report: Forests, agricultural land could help Minnesota reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Nature Conservancy's Minnesota chapter released a report that shows how many acres of trees would be needed to help the state reach its reduction goals.

University of Minnesota

U of M will halt admissions to 12 PhD programs

The move is expected to help address the school's estimated budget shortfall of $166 million.

snow, plow

NWS says 'increasing potential for an impactful winter storm' this weekend

Nothing is certain yet. The weather service advises Minnesotans to monitor the forecast.

Mike Lindell, My Pillow CEO.

Under-fire Mike Lindell claims retailers have dropped MyPillow

The MyPillow CEO is seeing receiving backlash as he continues to share conspiracy theories about the election.

Related