WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) — Hundreds lined Waseca’s State Street Monday to welcome home Officer Arik Matson — who returned to the community for the first time since he was shot in the line of duty in January.
Matson was seriously injured when he was shot in the head more than nine months ago and has been making steady progress ever since.
“It’s absolutely just amazing,” said Matson’s grandmother Joyce Langerud. “You just can’t explain the feeling that you have.”
Escorted by a fleet of emergency vehicles, Matson got the chance to wave to the community that’s championed his recovery for almost 10 months.
“He’s basically had to learn to do most everything again,” said Joyce. “I don’t know if you’ve seen him walk into the station today. When he left here he could not walk unless he had somebody hanging onto him, but that’s how far he’s come. He’s learned to speak all over again.”
Under the flurries, old and young, lined Waseca’s State Street, eagerly awaiting Matson’s arrival.
“You just see the appreciation of the people in southern Minnesota,” said Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01). “Especially in the Waseca area for Officer Matson and all the people in law enforcement and the first responders. They’re paying their respects and it’s nice to see him walk again.”
Since January, Matson has undergone reconstructive surgery and months of physical therapy. Most recently, in Omaha, Nebraska, where COVID-19 restricted him from seeing most of his family and friends.
“He’s just glad to get home and see his wife and daughters because he hasn’t seen his daughters for a while,” said Matson’s grandfather Ray Langerud.
Monday afternoon gave the community a chance to thank Matson and the rest of the local law enforcement.
“The heroism of our police officers — day in and day out — that protect and serve,” Hagedorn said. “They never know what they are walking into even in a smaller community like this, so we really appreciate our police and we admire what they do.”
Photojournalist Gage Cureton contributed to this report.