Updated: October 19, 2020 03:25 PM
Created: October 18, 2020 01:10 PM
Preparations are being made to welcome home Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson on Monday in the southern Minnesota community.
Matson was critically wounded in January when he was shot by a suspect in the head during a call.
"This guy's a hero. He's overcome so many obstacles when the incident occurred,” said Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota
Police and Peace Officers Association. “Working through [COVID-19], learning how to walk, learning how to talk, he's just the definition of a hero."
The MPPOA has started a fundraiser for the Matson family to help them buy a vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair now that he’s coming back from an out-of-state rehabilitation facility.
"Due to COVID restrictions he really hasn't been able to see his family," Peters said. "I know Meg (Matson’s wife) went down a couple of times, this is going to be an adjustment, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association wanted to do anything we could do to help."
Injured Waseca officer Matson to return home next week
Welcome Home Route
The Waseca Police Department posted on social media that the public is welcome to line the sidewalks of State Street (Highway 13) from the Waseca Junior/Senior High School to the Waseca Public Safety building to welcome him home, beginning around noon Monday.
He will be brought in by a private plane, with donated costs coming from Insulation Distributors Incorporated. The company is a Minnesota based, family-owned distributor of building insulation products.
“Under the adverse conditions police officers are currently working in, it feels good to help one officer in a small way," said CEO Joe Novogratz said in a statement.
The plans call for Matson to be escorted into town by emergency vehicles in the drive-by motorcade as he passes well-wishers.
“The day we have hoped for is finally almost here. Arik will soon be home with his family, his law enforcement family and his friends,” Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought said in a statement. “We have missed him tremendously and will continue to support him as he recovers from his injuries.”
Matson served on the Freeborn City Council in a nearby community at the time of the shooting.
"Our thoughts have always been with him," Freeborn City Council Member James Beach said. "I think everybody I've talked to is excited and looking forward to Arik coming back home tomorrow and becoming part of the community again. I guess he really never left the community, everybody's been thinking about him all the time."
"My heart has just been so overwhelmed ... on how the community — the whole country has really helped, strengthened Arik ... my heart is just overwhelmed as the miracle has happened," said Ruth Oelkers, Matson's cousin.
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