Communities all around Minnesota came together in the time of tragedy when Waseca Officer Arik Matson was shot while responding to a disturbance Monday night.

Following the shooting the communities surrounding Matson and his family came together to pray, hope and help.

A Go Fund Me was started with an initial goal of $50,000 that was beat in meet hours with the new goal of $250,000. Currently over $135,000.

“Arik is a great person, husband and father,” Family friend Abbey Hullopeter said. “His three girls are his entire world. He’s truly a genuinely kind individual whom would give the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it. I started the go fund me page so his wife and family could focus on Arik and his heeling and not stress about finances. There will be a lot of back and forth to North Memorial from Freeborn for Megan. There will be hotel stays to keep the girls close to Arik, they will need to eat, pay bills, etc.”

Matson has been an officer in Waseca since 2013 and is the D.A.R.E officer. Before serving in Waseca he was a deputy in Albert Lea and in Freeborn county. Through his service in the area he has touched the lives of many.

On Monday, Jan. 6 around 8 p.m. Matson was shot in the head when he responded to a disturbance call on 3rd avenue SE on the 900 block. He was airlifted to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale where he is in critical but stable condition. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension continues its investigation into the particulars of the incident.

“Thank you, Waseca Police, for your immediate response to a very dangerous situation at our home,” Jack and Mary Williams said in an email. “Our prayers are with you, Officer Arik Matson. No words can express our gratitude. A thank you also to the Sheriff’s Department and Minnesota BCA for your professionalism.”

The shooting took place in the yard and area around the Williams home.

The night of the shooting Mayor Roy Srp rushed to the hospital where Matson is being treated and cared for. At the City Council meeting he shared how the halls of the hospital were lined with police officers and sheriff’s deputies. He was assured that there would always be someone on duty at the hospital as long as Matson was there.

“Officer Arik Matson, along with many other Waseca officers, deputies and first responders put their lives on the line for our community daily,” local in area of shooting Lindsey Fritz said. “Their selfless acts of service and protection don’t go unnoticed. Officer Matson goes above and beyond for the Waseca community not only as an officer but also as a volunteer firefighter (in Freeborn county), D.A.R.E. officer, and SWAT team member. I want to send out a heartfelt thank you from myself and my neighborhood to officer Matson as well as all other officers and first responders that were on the scene the night of Monday, January 6th. Thank you for your immediate response and protection to the call you attended to that was so close to my home. Prayers for Officer Matson and his family for healing, strength, and love. You are all constantly in my thoughts and heart! God bless you.”

Community members are actively keeping Matson in their prayers and thoughts in the days following the incident.

Thursday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. a candlelight vigil is happening at the Waseca Public Safety building. The event also encourages people to wear blue that day as a way to support everyone who protects communities on a day-to-day basis.

The event also states those attending should bring a candle if they are able to because there are limited supplies available.

“Officer Matson is definitely one of the good guys,” Co host of the candlelight vigil Jennifer Guerber Pfeifer said. “He has taken an active role in protecting our community and has invested greatly in our kids. This vigil is a way for us to come together to not only pray for Officer Matson and his family but to show support to our entire law enforcement community. They need to know they have our support and when they hurt... we hurt.”

Pastor Kaleb Hurley of Hope Church in Albert Lea where Matson attends is hosting an event to pray for the Matson’s. This prayer is on January 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for anyone who wishes to attend.

He has touched so many with his service and selflessness that multiple businesses are raising funds for his family.

The 4 Seasons Athletics in Waseca is designing a shirt to honor Matson, local Jennifer Burt is selling decal stickers to raise more funds to donate and Pipi Lane Boutique sold a support local police shirt. Divine Leigh Boutique also sold sweatshirts with all proceeds and $5 for each one sold to go to the family.

“We are currently working on a design and link for the shirt,” 4 Seasons Athletics owner Jeremiah Miller said. “As far as a reaction I can tell you that we back out first responders up 100%. We, like the majority of the town are praying and sending good vibes to Officer Matson and his entire family. We recognize the dangers that our law enforcement and other responders face each day and are thankful for them and what they do. Waseca is an incredible community and when tragedy strikes, we band together and show exactly what a town should do in order to support those affected. With that, we do not feel that any attention should be given to our store. We want all of the attention given to him, his friends, and his law enforcement family. We are honored to help in any way that we can and our specialty is doing shirt fundraisers so we reached out for permission from his family and are really glad we can do a small part of what has already been happening for them.”

Outside of Waseca 407 Designz has also designed a shirt that is for sale with proceeds going to the family as well. The Hyvee in Albert Lea, Minnesota, where Matson served as a Deputy, is rounding up at the register with those funds going to the Matson family.

“He is a great father, husband, community member, volunteer and police officer,” local Jennifer Lechner Burt said. “He does more for Waseca and his Freeborn/Albert Lea community than just his paid job of being an officer. He was also my daughter’s D.A.R.E. officer and has made a big impact on many people in all the communities he is involved in. I was just trying to figure out a way to help that was in my budget but that could make a larger impact when I came up with the decal idea. I know sometimes it’s easier to donate $10 for a decal than a larger amount of money. And, then they can be part of a bigger donation and have a visible sign of support on their vehicle. My goal is to sell at least 100 decals so I can make a $1000 donation. I am already halfway there, so if there is a chance to sell more and donate more, I certainly will.”

The Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce commented on the tragedy as well to back Matson and the other officers in the area.

The post stated: “Tragedy does not define Waseca, it never has. No matter the circumstances in our community, we are poised to rise above what can easily drag us down. When some are weak, others step in to be their strength. We bear our burdens together to lessen the ache for all. Waseca was remarkable yesterday and will be remarkable tomorrow.”

Not only are businesses showing their support but there has been an outpouring of support on Facebook and through gestures in the community.

Matson is the D.A.R.E. officer at Waseca schools and has interacted with students through this program. The Waseca Public Schools put out a message to families of students offering links and help for the students that may need it.The school also had counselors available for students to speak with in the buildings.

The Waseca high school boys varsity basketball team wore shirts with Matson’s name on it to honor him during warm ups before the Tuesday, Jan. 7 night game that they went on to win.

Throughout Waseca porch lights were left on for Matson as a way for community members to show they are behind him. In Rochester a billboard could be seen with the blue and black flag and Waseca written on it.

In a St. Paul Police Department Facebook page a post was made stating “When a hero is injured in the line of duty, we are all deeply affected.” This is only one post of numerous posts from various police departments and sheriff departments across the state that have been showing support with #Matsonstrong.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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