A Minneapolis man has been charged in what authorities say was a random and unprovoked assault on KSTP-TV anchor Matt Belanger.
Vennie Williams, 39, is charged with third-degree assault and harassment with intent to injure, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday.
The assault happened Tuesday at the Nicollet Mall light-rail platform in downtown Minneapolis.
Belanger told police he was walking across the platform when Williams cocked his arm back and hurled an object at him, according to the criminal complaint. The object struck Belanger in the left eye and “caused a great deal of pain,” the complaint said.
Belanger suffered a corneal and ocular abrasion, which could cause permanent damage to his eye. He told investigators that his eye was full of blood and his vision was blurry, the complaint states.
Williams fled before officers arrived, but police arrested him later.
Belanger, who joined KSTP in 2016, anchors the midday newscast alongside Leah McLean. He came to the Twin Cities from Atlanta, where he worked as an anchor and reporter for WSB-TV, according to his online biography.
In a video posted to his Facebook page Thursday, Belanger said he suffered internal bleeding that must heal before he can return to work. He thanked viewers for sending him positive messages and said he expects to make a full recovery.
“It’s hard, honestly, to be at home sidelined right now at a time when our viewers, I feel, need journalists on TV perhaps now more than ever,” Belanger said. “I miss you all, and I’ll be back very soon.”