ST. LOUIS • The Backstoppers, Inc. has contributed $50,000 to Florissant Police Officer Michael Vernon, who was paralyzed earlier this week during a shooting.

The nonprofit's Board of Directors President Jeff Fox and Executive Director Chief Ron Battelle presented the check today to the officer at DePaul Hospital.

Vernon was shot three times early Monday while searching for a burglary suspect. Prosecutors filed charges Tuesday accusing Brian Lamon Cannon Jr., 20, of assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and burglary.

One bullet pierced Vernon's lungs and lodged in his spinal cord, paralyzing the officer from the waist down, Capt. Sean Fagan said.

"He found out yesterday that the paralysis is permanent," Fagan said. "The injuries to his lungs are healing well on their own and surgically removing the bullet in his spine would do more damage than good, so they're going to leave it where it is.

"He's had a chest tube inserted to break up some of the clots that formed. His right shoulder is shattered, but he has full use of his arms and hands and has trunk control. His paralysis starts about three inches above his belly button."

Vernon has been taken out of the ICU to start working on the months of rehabilitation ahead, Fagan said.

"We're hoping to find him new place to live in and make sure he has position on the police department when he comes back," Fagan said. "I can put him behind a desk or as a dispatcher because he's certainly got a job here no matter what. He is a member of our family and we're not going to forget about him just because he got hurt. We don't want his wife to worry about anything else but getting him better."

About five years ago, Backstoppers began donating to emergency responders who have suffered catastrophic injuries, Battelle said.

"It's not a lot of money in the scheme of things, but maybe it will help him through these trying times," Battelle said. "Officer Vernon was in good spirits, he has a positive attitude and realizes he has a long road ahead of him."

The BackStoppers cover 18 counties in Missouri and Illinois, and financially assist the families of police, fire and EMS officers killed in the line of duty and officers suffering catastrophic injuries.

For more information, visit www.backstoppers.org.

Christine Byers covers law enforcement for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.