Officer Mike Vernon, 33, was shot twice early Monday morning while responding to a burglary call.
Police from across the St. Louis area flooded Florissant streets with patrols car. They got the word, an officer was in need of aid.
Kayla Pittman, 14, who lives near the scene said, “I heard a lot of sirens coming closer.”
Officer Andy Haarmann, spokesman for the Florissant Police Department added, “We had as many as approximately 150 officers from the St. Louis area respond.”
Neighbors on Banstead Drive said it all began at a home on their street around 3:00 a.m. The family that lived in the house was out of town. A burglar set off the home’s alarm and police rushed to the house. The suspect ran away dropping a flat screen TV on the Pittman family’s patio.
Kim Pittman was stunned by the turn of events, “It’s crazy. It is shocking this is an extremely quiet neighborhood.”
Police said the thief then went behind a nearby shopping center. Officer Mike Vernon pulled up. One cop said it was like an ambush, the would-be burglar opened fire. He pulled the trigger three times. Two bullets hit Officer Vernon.
Even though he was wounded and losing blood, he was able to give his fellow cops a description of the gunman. Officer Haarmann said, “He was able to speak with the officer prior to being transported to the hospital.”
The canine unit was brought in. They tracked the man to the nearby Wedgewood subdivision where he was caught in a backyard. Police feared there was an accomplice, a second man still on the run.
The SWAT Team from the county and the one from the Missouri Highway Patrol arrived and scoured the area. The subdivision was locked down. Resident Briahna Gray said, “There’s a lot of police officers there looking through my trunk before I entered and I left.”
A silver pistol was discovered in a resident’s backyard, apparently thrown there by the gunman. Although the lock-down disrupted neighbors’ lives residents were grateful the police efforts. Larry Brown, a neighbor said, “We’re thankful for the quick response, we’re thankful the situation is over and handled well.”
About seven hours after the subdivision was cordoned off police left the area. They determined there was only one man involved. There was no second person. At this time, police are calling the man they caught a person of interest, not a suspect.
Officer Vernon is at DePaul Hospital in North St. Louis county. He's already had one operation to repair internal damage from the two gunshot wounds. His wife is at the hospital and his parents rushed to St. Louis from the Springfield Missouri area. They are waiting along with doctors to see what happens next.
"Doctors have told me that he's in critical and stable condition. I just got done talking to him. He's in remarkably good spirits considering the cindition he's in. They still have him under observation. They are gong to decide what to do tomorrow after he's stablizes a little bit better. He's in the intensive care unit at this time." said Capt. Sean Fagan of the Florissant Police Dept.
Officer Vernon may face more surgery on Tuesday.