Waseca, MN – Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans told reporters that the officer who was shot in the head by a fugitive late Monday night has “grave injuries” and was in critical-but-stable condition as of Tuesday morning.
Superintendent Evans said at a press conference that the incident occurred when Waseca police officers responded to a call about a suspicious person with a flashlight in the backyard of a home in the 900-block of 3rd Avenue Southeast.
The superintendent said the officer encountered 37-year-old Tyler Janovsky in the yard, and that’s when Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson was shot in the head.
He said officers returned fire and Janovsky was struck twice.
Officers rendered emergency aid to both Officer Matson and the gunman until medics arrived, according to Superintendent Evans.
The superintendent told reporters that both the officer and his would-be killer were airlifted to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale.
“Arik Matson was shot and gravely injured,” Superintendent Evans said.
The suspect’s wounds were not considered life-threatening.
He said the investigation into the incident was still in its preliminary stages.
Waseca police officers do not wear bodycams and investigators are checking dashcam video to see if anything was captured, according to Superintendent Evans.
The superintendent said multiple shots were fired, although he could not provide an exact number.
He said he did not have information about what kind of weapon the suspect had used to shoot Officer Matson.
Superintendent Evans said the BCA was working with prosecutors to determine what charges should be filed against Janovsky, who was wanted on an active warrant for drug charges.
Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought described the critically-wounded officer as a “devoted husband and father.”
“This is the worst nightmare a law enforcement agency can face and we’re living it right now,” Chief Vought told reporters.
Officer Matson is the son of retired Albert Lea Police Officer Tim Matson, the Star Tribune reported.
He began his law enforcement career in the Police Explorers program for the Albert Lea Police Department where he also later interned.
Officer Matson earned his degree in criminal justice from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and worked security for the Minnesota Vikings’ pre-season camp in Mankato while he was in school, the Star Tribune reported.
After he became a licensed law enforcement officer in 2010, and the legacy lawman worked the night shift with his father for the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the Star Tribune reported.
Officer Matson joined the Waseca police on a part-time basis in November of 2013, and became full-time with the department in early 2015.
Chief Vought said that, in addition to patrol, Officer Matson served as the police department’s very popular DARE officer.
She said he was also a member of the drug investigative unit’s SWAT team.
Police were already looking for Janovsky before his gun battle with police on Jan. 6.
Janovsky was released from prison in September of 2019 after he served time for burglarizing a home while naked, the Mankato Free Press reported.
When a Department of Corrections agent and a Waseca police officer went to do a probation check on him at home on Dec. 13, 2019, Janovsky fled.
Authorities got a warrant for his home and found methamphetamine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana, and 170 pills, the Mankato Free Press reported.
They also found almost 900 tablets of pseudoephedrine and all of the equipment and supplies needed to make methamphetamine, along with a binder that had very specific instructions on how to manufacturer the drug.
Police also found a loaded handgun at Janovsky’s residence, the Mankato Free Press reported.
Drug charges were filed against Janovsky on Dec. 27 and the complaint that was filed warned that he should be considered “armed and dangerous” after pictures of three guns were found on his phone.
Superintendent Evans said the officers who encountered Janovsky on Monday night did not initially know he was a wanted fugitive.