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STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. – A Ste. Genevieve Police officer was in surgery for hours Monday following an attack that left him with second- and third-degree burns.

Pete Unverferth was airlifted to the hospital last week after a suspect lit a Molotov cocktail and threw at him.

Unverferth, 36, was responding to a noise complaint call. The suspect, Tyson Heise, 34, has been charged with knowingly injuring the officer. He is in custody.

“There are no Mayberry RFDs anymore. This is a 4,500-person community where this happened. And it can happen anywhere,” Ste. Genevieve Police Chief Eric Bennett said.

The firebomb shattered on Officer Unverferth’s arm. He was also burned on his hands, torso, legs, and thighs, Bennett said.

“We’re so thankful that it didn’t get into his face or his lungs. I mean, we just thank God for that,” he said.

The incident hits close to home.

Officer Unverferth is well known in Ste. Genevieve, as a husband, father of three children, and proud member of the department.

“He was our DARE officer for a number of years. Has a great rapport with the school, with the kids. Just with the community,” Chief Bennett said.

Unverferth’s family and department quickly learned that they are not alone.

“I can’t tell you how many times his wife has become just overwhelmed with the support and how thankful she is for all the help,” his chief said. “Obviously they don’t want to be in this situation. But I know that all the prayers, are important to them, and the support. They’re just overwhelmed with the support they’ve gotten.”

BackStoppers announced that it would help with medical expenses and other costs. The organization helps support families of first responders who have been killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

The support doesn’t end there. Billboards can now be seen in Ste. Genevieve, Jackson, and Perryville.

“Just asking for prayers, for Officer Pete,” Bennett said.

In addition to prayers, the community can send donations to the officer’s family to assist with his recovery:

Donations to Support Injured Ste. Genevieve Officer
First State Community Bank
Donations “In Benefit to Officer Pete Unverferth”