• 32°

Officer Matson returning home next week

People are invited to welcome him home in Waseca, Freeborn

 

Nine months after he was shot while on duty, Waseca Officer Arik Matson will return home to Freeborn on Monday. 

People are invited to welcome him along the route of his return, starting first in Waseca and then in Freeborn. 

Officer Arik Matson

“The day we have hoped for is finally almost here,” Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought said in a statement on the department’s Facebook page. “Arik will soon be home with his family, his law enforcement family and his friends. We have missed him tremendously and will continue to support him as he recovers from his injuries.” 

Matson suffered a gunshot wound to the head Jan. 6 and in the months that followed has endured several surgeries and months of rehabilitation. 

She thanked the first responders, doctors and nurses who saved Matson’s life, the retired and current law enforcement officers who watched over him at various facilities, the workers who provided him care during his healing journey and the countless people throughout Minnesota and the country who sent well wishes. 

“Your support will never be forgotten,” Vought said. 

People are invited to line the sidewalks in Waseca on State Street from the Waseca Junior/Senior High School to the Waseca Public Safety Building at about noon. 

An escort of emergency vehicles will bring Matson past the people in a drive-by so he can see all who came to greet him. 

The department said people are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines and stay on the sidewalks or far off of the roadway. The road will not be shut down during the escort. 

The parking lot of the public safety building will be closed to the public until 2 p.m., and the building will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

After leaving Waseca, Matson will then be escorted to his home in Freeborn, where he is expected to arrive at about 2:30 p.m. 

Freeborn City Councilor Jim Beach said Matson will come into town on Freeborn County Road 29, travel on Center Street west to Fifth Avenue, south on Fifth Avenue to Park Street and then east on Park Street to his home. 

Beach encouraged people to line the streets and welcome him home and to also practice social distancing along this route. 

“Everyone’s quite excited about the fact that he’s finally returning home,” Beach said, noting he has already heard from Matson’s wife that her husband is eager to come to a city council meeting. He stepped up in 2018 to fill a vacancy on the Freeborn County Council and is also on the volunteer fire department.

Matson has worked for the Waseca Police Department since 2013 on patrol, as the D.A.R.E. officer and as a member of the South Central Drug Task Force SWAT team. He previously worked for the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and Wells and New Richland police departments. 

In addition to welcome home celebrations planned in Waseca and Freeborn, a separate welcome home drive-thru celebration is planned to take place in Albert Lea in Edgewater Park later in the week.

Abi Gerdes, who is a friend of the Matsons and who is organizing the event, said the Albert Lea celebration is planned for 2 p.m. Oct. 24 starting at the west entrance to Edgewater Park and continuing through to the park’s exit to Lakeview Boulevard. 

Gerdes said people are invited to line the sides of the roadway, following social distance guidelines, as police and first responders lead Matson through. 

People are encouraged to wear any Matson Strong T-shirts or gear they may have and to bring posters and balloons. 

“He’s just so involved in the community, and we all have been following him and love him,” Gerdes said. “It would only make sense to celebrate his life and his homecoming, just showing him how much we care with signs and balloons.”

Peppered Cow food truck will also be available at the event.