Critically Shot Officer Showing Signs Of Improvement

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FLORISSANT, MO (KTVI) - A Florissant police officer, shot twice early Memorial Day morning, remained in critical condition at DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton Monday night. His fellow officers told Fox 2 he had show slight improvement.

Officers, along with Vernon`s wife and family remained at his side through night. Police had a "person of interest" in custody, but had yet to seek charges against anyone in the case.

Officer Mike Vernon, 33, was in the DePaul Intensive Care Unit, after undergoing surgery, police said.
As one officer put it, no news would be good news, as Vernon went through the night.

"They're going to keep him under observation for tonight, see what his prognosis is tomorrow. If necessary they said they would do another surgery tomorrow. But it's all going to depend on how things go tonight," said Florissant Police Captain, Sean Fagan.

Vernon was shot twice, in the shoulder and the side, behind a former bank in the 2800 block of Highway 67 around 3:00 a.m., police said. He was responding to a burglary when he encountered the suspect, police said. Bleeding badly and in danger of dying, Vernon still gave his responding fellow officers critical information regarding the shooter, including a description, police said.

Police said a canine unit led police to the person of interest within an hour of the shooting; the person of interest hiding running through a neighborhood about ½ mile from the initial burglary scene; police finding the handgun believed to have been used in the shooting, in a back yard not far from where they found the person of interest.

A SWAT team joined officers from across the area on the manhunt for a potential second person of interest. Police later called off that search. The police response impressed and overwhelmed residents.

"I must say at one time, when they discovered the weapon, next door in the back yard to us, there were 21 police men there at one time," said Larry Brown, who lives next door to where officers found the gun.

"As soon as this happened, we had more than 400 officers show up on the scene between St. Louis County, Highway Patrol and just about every municipality in St. Louis County, sent an officer and because of the work of all of these officers we were able to get some very good leads," Capt. Fagan said.

"We`re very, very thankful. We`re thankful at the quick response. We`re thankful that the situation is over and handled very, very well. We`re thankful that the officer seems to be recovering. We continue to pray for his full recovery and rapid recovery," Brown said.

The initial burglary victim told FOX 2 the suspect pried open his back door and pulled the electric meter from the house hoping to disable the burglar alarm; it didn't work; the suspect dropped his flat screen TV in a neighbor`s yard as he fled.

That victim was beyond thankful for Vernon's bravery; his prayers joined a chorus of them from the entire St. Louis area - and beyond on this Memorial Day.

"While we as a community are thinking about our warriors overseas, we also have to remember we have some right here on the home front every day, because this is a battle zone quite often in our own community," Brown said.

Ironically, the burglary victim is corrections officer for St. Louis County.

He said he`d likely be seeing the person of interest in the days to come. That victim had a special appreciation for Vernon's bravery.

Officer Vernon hails from the Springfield, MO, area. He`s a 7 year police veteran. He's married with no children.

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