Block Party Held To Benefit Wounded Officer

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FLORISSANT, MO (KPLR)-Florissant residents thankful for the bravery of their first responders held a block party fundraiser Saturday to benefit a police officer paralyzed in shooting.

Hundreds of fellow police officers and firefighters joined the effort to assist Officer Mike Vernon, 33.

"When a fellow officer is in need, it is just like my own brother is in need," said one officer who came from Berkeley.

Officer Vernon was shot three times early Memorial Day morning by a burglary suspect who ambushed him.  He sustained a spinal cord injury and gunshot wounds to his lungs

Florissant firefighter and paramedic Zach Krato marveled at the benefit turnout. 

"This is amazing.  I expected something great, but this is beyond that," he said as he stood beneath a giant American flag suspended over the block party from a department hook and ladder truck.

Florissant resident Carrie Hunt explained her husband works as a firefighter in the Spanish Lake department. 

"We are always out to try to help his brethren and anybody that gets hurt in the line of duty; we are always there to support them," she said.

Sunny skies and mild weather fueled the turnout.  Organizers held an outdoor live auction, offered music from volunteer bands and presented fifty-fifty raffles.  By 9:30 pm they had raised more than $20,000 dollars.

Crowds filled the parking lot outside Joe's Pub on St. Francois St. in Florissant all day long.  One of the tavern's owners, Bill Peipers organized the benefit.  

"The burglary actually happened in my subdivision and when you know it is that close to home it really hits," said Peipers.

Peipers went on to say the attack on Officer Vernon "is a community thing. This is something that didn't just affect him and his family…it affects us and that's why we're all here."

Vernon is hospitalized.  Fellow Florissant officers say he is in good spirits.

Betsey.Bruce@tvstl.com

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