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KSTP anchor Matt Belanger assaulted at downtown Minneapolis light rail station

An assailant hit KSTP's Matt Belanger in the eye with a "rock or piece of concrete," sending the news anchor to the hospital.

An assailant hit KSTP's Matt Belanger in the eye with a "rock or piece of concrete," sending the news anchor to the hospital. Facebook

KSTP reporter and midday news anchor Matt Belanger was injured in a seemingly random attack in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday morning.

The station says Belanger was on the Nicollet Mall light rail platform when someone "threw a rock or piece of concrete" that hit Belanger in the eye. The thrower fled before cops could arrive, but was soon found and arrested.

The assault happened around 9 a.m., and was caught on the light rail station's cameras.

KSTP news director Kirk Varner tells the Star Tribune: "The guy was just walking by [Belanger]" before the attack, which he characterized as "completely random."

Belanger went to the hospital for a "signficant injury to his left eye," per KSTP, and will be away from the anchor desk for at least a few days while he recovers.

The alleged assailant, 39, gave police an address for an addiction recovery home. He was booked into Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault, a crime punishable by up to seven years or up to 10 years in prison, depending on whether "substantial bodily harm" was inflicted on the victim.

Belanger, who co-hosts KSTP's midday news show with Leah McLean, joined the station in 2016, following stints as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and got his start on KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2005.

In a statement seizing on Belanger's assault, GOP Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville) called the random act of violence a "grim reminder that our transit system is in crisis as crime continues to grow and remains an issue, even during COVID orders." 

Koznick, who also made reference to the random assault of a woman in St. Paul last week, said he'd be introducing a floor amendment during a Thursday House session to address transit safety. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the assault was recorded by KSTP cameras. It was recorded by surveillance cameras at the light rail station.