Matt Belanger, an Emmy-winning news anchor on KSTP-TV 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was viciously attacked on his way to work in what police believe was a hate crime fueled by homophobia.
Belanger shared a Facebook video last week explaining to his viewers why he hasn’t been seen on TV recently.
In the video, Belanger explains that he was waiting to catch a train to work on the morning of May 12 when he was attacked by a complete stranger.
“A man, who I do not know, suddenly from close range threw something at my face,” he said in the video. “It had enough force to cause some damage to my left eye. And that’s why I’m wearing the eye patch here, to protect my eye as it heals.”
He was rushed to the hospital where he was told that he suffered a corneal and ocular abrasion, which could result in permanent vision damage. He also had internal bleeding.
After reviewing surveillance footage, officers arrested Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, in connection to the assault.
While in police custody, authorities said Williams “made statements indicating that he assaulted [Belanger] because he perceived that [he] was homosexual,” reports Out.
Williams has been charged with third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm and harassment with intent to injure. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Belanger says he plans to return to work once he has healed.
“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,” he said. “I miss you all, and I’ll be back very soon.”