Suspect in Waseca police officer shooting makes first court appearance

BCA investigates scene of Waseca shooting
A Waseca police officer walks the perimeter set up at the crime scene in Waseca, Minn., following the Jan. 6 shooting that left an officer and suspect injured.
Hannah Yang | MPR News file

The man facing charges in the shooting of a Waseca, Minn., police officer last month made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

More than 50 people — uniformed officers from the Waseca Police Department, Waseca County Sheriff’s Office and first responders from North Memorial Health Hospital, plus others wearing shirts with a blue line on it to show support for law enforcement — crowded into the courtroom at the Waseca County Courthouse for Tyler Janovsky’s bail hearing.

Officer Shot Minnesota
Tyler Janovsky
Minnesota Department of Corrections via AP

Janovsky, 37, of Waseca, was wheeled into the courtroom with a cast wrapped around his foot. When Judge Carol Hanks asked him if he understood his rights and if he had any questions about the proceedings, he quietly responded with a “Yes, your honor” and a “No, your honor.”

Janovsky faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and a firearms charge. His bail was set Tuesday at $3 million.

According to charging documents, several Waseca police officers responded to a call on Jan. 6 about a suspicious man with a flashlight walking through backyards of a residential neighborhood in the southern Minnesota city.

When the officers encountered the man, later identified as Janovsky, he allegedly shot at them, hitting officer Arik Matson, 32, in the head. Officers returned fire during the incident, and Janovksy was also injured.

Matson and Janovsky were airlifted to North Memorial Health Hospital in the Twin Cities suburb of Robbinsdale, Minn. Janovsky was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and transferred to the Oak Park Heights prison, where he is being held.

Officer Arik Matson
Officer Arik Matson
Courtesy of Waseca Police Department

Matson’s injuries were grave. According to the officer’s CaringBridge page, he has undergone several surgeries and spent weeks in intensive care.

A posting by his sister-in-law this week said he still can’t eat or talk, but was able to stand briefly on Monday and is showing progress in his recovery.

The post said he has been moved from intensive care to a long-term acute care facility.

Judge Hanks set bail in two cases against Janovsky during Tuesday’s hearing — first on charges tied to the Jan. 6 incident and then on drug-related charges filed in December.

Bail for in the January shooting case was set at $3 million with no conditions or $2 million with several conditions, including that Janovsky make no contact with Matson, his family or Waseca police officers and that he attend all future court appearances.

Bail for the December drug charges was set for $500,000 with no conditions or $250,000 with the condition that Janovsky wear ankle monitoring and submit to future drug tests.

In the latter case, officials allege that Janovsky violated the terms of his release from a prior conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine.

According to the criminal complaint, the South Central Drug Investigation Unit was notified of a possible meth lab inside a Waseca home where Janovsky was staying.

On Dec. 13, police did a probations check on Janovsky, and discovered the drug operation in the basement of the house. Janovsky reportedly fled the scene, with a handgun. He was considered armed and dangerous and was added to the state Department of Corrections’ fugitives list.

When Waseca police encountered Janovsky nearly a month later, they didn’t know about the charges or the warrant out for his arrest.

Prosecutors Tuesday argued that Janovsky should be considered a flight risk, and added that he had reportedly told his family two weeks before the Jan. 6 incident that he wanted to die at the hands of police.

Janovsky’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 14.

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