The Waseca Community came together Thursday evening — National Law Enforcement Day — in a vigil to honor all law enforcement officers but especially Waseca police officer Arik Matson who was gravely injured Monday, Jan. 6, when he was shot during a police call.
While hundreds of people came out to the candlelight vigil in support of Matson, a prayer service was being held at Hope Church in Albert Lea where an update on Matson was given. Pastor Kaleb Hurley shared that Matson was in stable condition and needs rest to continue to recuperate from all of the visitors.
“When we started the vigil last night, I looked out at the crowd and continued to see people arrive and was overwhelmed by the support,” said Molly Kopischke, co-organizer of the Waseca vigil. “Music and prayer are so powerful, and I truly believe last night we needed both to try and start the healing process for Waseca. When all the candles were lit in the crowd, it took my breath away and my eyes were filled with tears. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening.”
The songs “Up to the Mountain” and “The Weight of the Badge” were performed by locals the Miller Denn band and Becky Borneke before the start of the candlelight vigil.
Following the first songs there was a presentation of flags with Mayor pro-tem Allan Rose welcoming the crowd as Mayor Roy Srp was not able to be there.
As he spoke, Rose had tears in his eyes needing to take a moment before continuing to speak to the crowd.
“We want to show our appreciation for officer Arik Matson and his family. Our prayers go out to him,” Rose said. “This community comes together so many times, unfortunately, but they do such a good job. We’ll get through these things. I just want to thank you so much for being here.”
The Policeman’s Prayer was given by local Lexie Kanewischer with Landi Dulas, daughter of a Waseca County Sheriff’s Deputy, speaking on National Law Enforcement Day.
She shared growing up with her hero, encouraging people to thank someone in law enforcement for what they do because they put themselves in danger everyday. She also spoke on the need to pray and keep Matson in their thoughts.
Following her speech, the crowd lit their candles with a main candle on display for Matson giving a glow over the parking lot.
“Once again our little town showed what it’s made of,” co-organizer Jennifer Guerber Pfeifer said. “I had tears in my eyes when I walked out of the Public Safety Building and saw the number of people that came in support Officer Matson and our law enforcement community. I am just so completely proud to live here.”
The crowd gathered was filled with friends, family and co-workers of Matson as well as strangers wanting to show support for him and his family and to all other law enforcement.
“I came out to support all of them (all law enforcement) and the community,” Tammi Attenberger said. “Our community comes together in hard times.”
Hans Jankers is another local who was among the crowd to support Matson. He shared that Matson always waves and says hello to him continuing to say this shouldn’t have happened to him in a small town.
The candlelight vigil was organized by numerous people who were touched by this tragedy and looking for a way to help.
“When something tragic like this happens I think we all wonder what can we do to help,” Kopischke said. “I was driving to work Tuesday morning and thought, our community needs to come together in prayer. I contacted Angie Grotberg at the Waseca Police Department and asked about doing a candlelight prayer vigil at the Public Safety Building and she was supportive of the idea. What I love about Waseca is that we always come together. Waseca always shows up in good times and bad. This wasn’t a one-person event. I had so many community members jump in and want to help, and that’s what makes Waseca a great place to live. I wanted this event to be focused on praying for Officer Matson, honoring our Waseca Police Department, and supporting our fellow community members.”
At the same time as the candlelight vigil in Waseca, Hope Church in Albert Lea, where Matson is a member, was holding a community prayer event for Matson and his family.
The event was filled with song and prayer for the family with an update on Matson.
Pastor Hurley shared an update on behalf of the Matson family stating the doctors and physicians are moving forward with the plan and not backwards, which is a good thing.
Prior to the event people were encouraged to wear blue all day to show support for those in law enforcement along with having their porch lights on for Matson. Continuing forward Kopischke said they are encouraging people to leave their porch lights on and to wear blue every Thursday until Matson can be brought home.