Earlier this month Matt Belanger, an Emmy-winning news anchor on, 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was attacked on his way to work. After apprehending a suspect, police believe that the case is one sparked by homophobia.
According to a video he posted on Facebook, Belanger was waiting to catch the train he would normally take to work when the incident occurred.
"A man, who I do not know, suddenly from close range threw something at my face," Belanger said. "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."
According to a criminal complaint, the assault occurred on March 12 at approximately 9 a.m. Metro Transit Police Officers responded to a call and observed Belanger's eye was red, and he said his vision was cloudy at the time. After a visit to the hospital, he was told he had suffered a corneal and ocular abrasion which could lead to permanent damage.
After receiving surveillance camera footage, the officers found Vennie Jerome Williams, who Belanger later identified. While in police custody, Williams "made statements indicating that he assaulted [the anchor] because he perceived that [he] was homosexual."
Belanger has been since diagnosed with traumatic hyphema of the let eye and traumatic iritis according to the report. As a result, he could be at increased risk for serious medical complications "for many years to come."
"The impact to my eye did cause some internal bleeding that does need to heal before I'm going to be able to go back to work," Belanger said. "I do expect to make a full recovery but I also need to listen to doctors right now and to stay home and take it easy."
After news broke of the attack, Belanger has received notes and messages from viewers that he calls "comforting."
Williams stands accused of third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm as well as harassment with intent to injure. If convicted of both, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years and/or $20,000.