Waseca police officer Arik Matson still has a long road ahead, but there have been encouraging moments in the days that have passed since he was shot in the head in the line of duty on Monday, Jan. 6.
Kaleb Hurley, the lead pastor at Hope Church in Albert Lea, announced Tuesday that Matson is in critical but stable condition, but has provided encouragement through the ability to squeeze fingers and answer questions with a thumbs-up or by squeezing a hand.
"Arik has become stable and his condition is still critical. That means there is still help with his breathing at times," Hurley said in a video message posted to Facebook. "Make no mistake, Arik is still in the woods and Arik still has a really long road ahead of him."
Matson's CaringBridge page provides further detail about his progress: "He opened his eyes, squeezed a few hands, and answered yes or no questions by squeezing or not squeezing his hand. Even though he's got a long road to recovery ahead of him, he's making tremendous strides, even the Neuro team is impressed."
The CaringBridge page also explains that the bullet that struck Matson entered his right-upper forehead and exited behind his right ear.
"It's a miracle that he's alive at this point," said Hurley.
In addition to receiving constant support from Minnesota law enforcement, and a GoFundMe raising more than $170,000 (and counting) for his family, Matson has received a "ton of Vikings gear" from the Minnesota Vikings and a custom jersey from the Minnesota Twins with "MATSON" on the back.
Matson, 32, is the husband of Megan and father to their two daughters, Audrina and Maklynn.
He was shot by a 37-year-old Tyler Janovsky as he was responding to a call of a suspicious person with a flashlight in the back yard of a residence in the 900 block of 4th Ave. SE. Janovsky has been charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder.
As well as being a Waseca police officer and a SWAT team member, Matson is also a Freeborn volunteer firefighter, a Freeborn City Council member, and a representative of the DARE program, teaching 5th-graders about resisting drugs and violence.