A KSTP-TV anchor was injured in a random and unprovoked assault at a downtown Minneapolis light rail station on Tuesday.
Midday anchor Matt Belanger was struck near the eye with a rock or brick, then treated and released at a nearby hospital after the 9 a.m. attack at the Nicollet Mall light rail stop, according to KSTP News Director Kirk Varner. Belanger was wearing a blazer and it does not appear he was assaulted because he is a journalist.
“The guy was just walking past him, he said nobody else was on the platform,” Varner said. ““Everything that Matt’s told me so far as that it was completely random.”
Varner said Belanger is expected to return to the air in a couple of days.
Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said the suspect, a 39-year-old Minneapolis man, fled the scene before officers arrived, but police caught up to him a short time later and placed him under arrest.
He was later booked into the Hennepin County jail on suspicion of second-degree assault. His listed address is a recovery house for men coming out of addiction in the Ventura Village neighborhood.
The Star Tribune is not naming the man, in keeping with a newsroom policy against identifying criminal suspects until they have been charged.
Since the incident took place on a light rail platform, the investigation falls to Metro Transit police. An incident report lists the weapon used as a “rock” or “brick,” but offers no possible motive for the crime.
Belanger, who joined the station in 2016, anchors the midday newscast alongside Leah McLean. He came to the Twin Cities from Atlanta, Ga. where he worked as an anchor and reporter for WSB-TV, according to his online biography.
Transit crime has become a pressing issue in recent years, with Metro Transit and state lawmakers pledging to address safety issues at the light rail system’s 37 stations. Of the five stations shared by the Green and Blue lines in downtown Minneapolis, the U.S. Bank Stadium stop has the highest incidence of crime — coinciding with a spike in serious crime in the growing Downtown East neighborhood.
Staff writer Janet Moore contributed to this report.