Arik Matson reflects on life-changing night 2 years later

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 9:11 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST
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WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) — Jan. 6, 2020, was a night that changed the course of Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson’s life forever.

“[It was] pretty much all a blur,” Matson recalled. “I remember being at the restaurant and walking out and that is my last memory.”

“You can’t not be emotional because [the Matsons] are such great people and then such a horrible thing happens, you have to feel it,” Waseca County Attorney Rachel Cornelius said. “I mean, I don’t know how anybody couldn’t be emotional about all of the things that have happened.”

Matson and fellow officers responded around 8 p.m. that night to a call of a suspicious person with a flashlight near the 900 block of Fourth Avenue SE in Waseca.

When four officers responded to the area, including Matson, they found 37-year-old Tyler Robert Janovsky in the backyard of a neighboring residence on the 900 block of Third Avenue SE.

“At one point in the encounter with him, Officer Matson was shot, officers then shot Mr. Janovsky. Officers attended to both parties at the scene and Officer Matson was then transported by air ambulance to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale,” Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said during a news conference the day after the shooting.

“I was flown to North Memorial Hospital, so I woke up there and the doctor said ‘you were shot last night at work in Waseca.’ I thought ‘not in Waseca, there is no way,’” Matson said.

From the moment Matson woke up in the hospital he knew his life was going to be an uphill battle and forever changed.

“It was kind of frustrating because you wake up the next day, and it’s like you are starting over as an infant almost,” Matson described.

But two years later, Arik and his wife Megan are able to tell the tale of a tragedy that turned into a miracle.

“Seeing him walk and seeing him talk and seeing him, seeing him smile — his smiles are so much more ‘Arik’ now,” Cornelius said.

“I think it is a miracle that I had the right people by my side to help me out,” Matson added.

The Matson family fought through the adversity and are standing tall, in large part due to the community of Waseca, which has had their back with every step of Matson’s road to recovery.

“I just know there are some people behind me that are supporting me. I mean, from day one my department has been great in Waseca. My wife and my family has been great. My community we live in has been awesome,” Matson stated.

Arik’s life will never be the same as before the shooting, but he says he can’t express how grateful he is to be here today, especially when he considers that the outcome could’ve been an entirely different story.

“Going from not just a wife, but a wife to, essentially, my caretaker and making sure I get to all of my appointments and out of bed every day and taking care of our children by yourself,” Matson said, as he looked at his wife. “It takes a special person, and I am just thankful that I was blessed to have you in my life from so far back. And thank you to everyone around me for all of the support and love.”

Janovsky plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison in November 2020.

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