By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officer Arik Matson, who was shot in the line of duty earlier this year, remains on a long road to recovery, but on Monday he was welcomed home to Waseca.

“It’s happy tears I think today,” Lorene Worke said.

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The Worke family knew Matson well, as he helped keep an eye on their restaurant. Now, they can’t wait to lay eyes on him.

“A lot anticipation,” Dean Worke said. “I never thought I’d see him again.”

But here they are, with dozens of other Waseca residents and first responders — overjoyed to welcome their hero home.

“We are so excited to get Arik home,” Matson’s grandmother Joyce Langerud said. “It’s just unbelievable that basically he’s still with us.”

Matson’s grandparents haven’t seen him in months. After he was shot in the head, he went to rehab in Omaha.

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“When he went there he couldn’t walk, now he can walk by himself,” Langerud explained.

An Omaha, Nebraska nonprofit, QLI, was granted full access to Matson’s return home. In the video, Matson says he’s “feeling good” and is “ready to return home” before boarding a flight back to Minnesota.

On Monday afternoon, Officer Matson rode through town in a parade of support — his kids behind him and coworkers all around him.

“It does feel like a miracle,” Langerud said. “And I think we have to thank our Lord above for the miracle we have today.”

And as he walked back into the station, it became a miracle in motion. It seems the shift that almost killed him only made him stronger.

Officer Matson’s grandparents say the family will soon gather.  They are going to be careful because of COVID but they are going to spend some time together and he will spend tonight in his own bed.

Matson suffered a gunshot wound to the head in January while chasing a suspect in a Waseca neighborhood. The man who shot him, Tyler Janovsky, pleaded guilty in July to two counts of attempted murder.

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To follow his progression through his wife’s CaringBridge page click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield