Updated: October 19, 2020 06:10 PM
Created: October 19, 2020 03:19 PM
Light snow fell as well-wishers waved thin blue line flags along the streets of downtown Waseca on Monday as a motorcade led Officer Arik Matson back to the police station.
Matson was critically wounded back in January when he was shot in the head by a suspect while on a call.
Matson got out of a police squad Monday and walked inside the station surrounded by community members, fellow officers, family and friends.
"My heart has just been so overwhelmed on how the community, the whole country has really helped strengthened Arik,” said cousin Ruth Oelkers. “My heart is just overwhelmed as the miracle has happened."
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Matson’s grandparents drove up from Albert Lea and stood holding their handwritten sign "Welcoming him back," as the motorcade passed through town on Monday afternoon.
COVID-19 limited the family's ability to see him recover in person at rehab centers, including one out-of-state in Nebraska.
"He said, 'You know grandma, when I came here I couldn't walk and now I can walk by myself,'" recalled Joyce Langerud who shared details of a recent phone call with her grandson Matson. “I said to him 'Arik, I bet you're getting anxious,' he said 'Yes I am grandma, I can't wait to get back home and see my wife and my girls.'"
After leaving the station, Matson was scheduled to return to his home in a nearby community to continue his recovery.
“We have missed him tremendously and will continue to support him as he recovers from his injuries,” said the Waseca police chief. “We would like to acknowledge and express our deepest gratitude to the first responders, doctors and nurses who saved his life.
The Minnesota Peace and Police Officers Association 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. A link to the fundraiser can be found here.
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