WASECA — New details have emerged in the Monday night shooting of Waseca Police Department Officer Arik Matson, with the alleged gunman charged Wednesday with three counts of attempted murder in district court.
Tyler Robert Janovsky, 37, was released from prison less than four months ago under supervision and was wanted again on an outstanding warrant after police located materials for a potential methamphetamine lab at his Waseca residence last month.
Drew Evans, superintendent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said at a press conference Tuesday morning that officers were not aware ahead of time who they were encountering Monday night. According to the complaint, four members of the Waseca Police Department were dispatched to the 900 block of Third Avenue SE following a report of a suspicious person with a flashlight in nearby backyards.
Officers first made contact with Janovsky on the balcony of a home on 3rd Avenue SE, the complaint says. The suspect is said to have then fled to the garage roof before circling to the front of the house. He allegedly fired his gun at Matson, Sergeant Timothy Schroeder and Officer Andrew Harren. Captain Kris Markeson was also present at the scene.
At the press conference, Evans reported that Janovsky shot Matson in the head and was in turn shot twice, sustaining non-life threatening injuries. The 32-year-old officer remains in critical condition and both he and Janovsky continue to be hospitalized at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, where they were airlifted Monday night.
According to a news release issued by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety late Wednesday afternoon, Matson and Schroeder were the two officers who fired their weapons during the incident. Schroeder, who has been with the department over 20 years, has been placed on administrative leave.
“We’re still piecing together exactly why [Janovsky] would have been at that location. It’s not his own,” Evans said at the press conference. His bureau is overseeing the investigation at the request of the Waseca Police Department.
Prior to this week’s shooting, Janovsky was wanted on an active warrant after a Dec. 13 search of his residence revealed eight grams of methamphetamine, materials often used in the manufacture of the drug and a safe full of other controlled substances and prescription pills — including medications commonly used to treat ADHD, anxiety and pain. Officers also reported one unknown blue pill with no markings.
A warrant for the search was issued after Janovsky’s corrections agent, BethAnn Wolff, and Officer Jacob Kaplan of the Waseca Police Department found methamphetamine paraphernalia in plain view while attempting to visit with Janovsky for a probation check. In a criminal complaint filed Dec. 27, Kaplan is said to have suspected Janovsky fled the scene upon their arrival.
In addition, a search warrant for the suspect’s phone revealed multiple conversations between Janovsky and other parties discussing the making, selling and using of methamphetamine, as well as a video of him attempting to create the drug.
According to Sarah Fitzgerald, Director of Communications with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the Dec. 13 search warrant was issued after Janovsky was believed to have violated the terms of his supervision, which include refraining from use or possession of mind-altering substances.
With a criminal record dating back to 2000, Janovsky “has been convicted of multiple crimes of violence, prohibiting him from possessing firearms,” according to the Dec. 27 complaint. In addition to three counts of first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, Janovsky has also now been charged with “possession of a firearm by an ineligible person,” according to Wednesday’s press release.
A loaded handgun was also recovered from his residence in last month’s search.
The suspect was most recently let out of prison this past September, after being committed in January 2017 for first-degree burglary of a home in Otter Tail County. While Janovsky’s sentence was five years, he received credit for time spent in custody pending sentencing and was then let out per state guidelines to finish the final third of his time at home under supervision.
“People who are sentenced to prison serve two thirds in prison and one third under supervised leadership,” explained Fitzgerald. “That allows them to transition back into the community under the supervision of an agent.”
The Waseca resident has one prior conviction of attempted methamphetamine manufacture in Watonwan County, filed back in 2005. He has also been found guilty of felony drug possession and terroristic threats, as well as serving as an accessory to the 2001 murder of fellow Waseca resident Rickey Dean Buker.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Police Chief Penny Vought told those gathered that Matson has been with the department since 2013. She called him, “a wonderful son, and a devoted husband and father.” An online fundraiser for the Matson family was at $117,500 of a $250,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon, with the benchmark having increased multiple times over the past couple days to keep pace with support.