Illinois House honors local hero James Vernon


SPRINGFIELD – James Vernon of Morton, who stopped a knife-wielding assailant from attacking a group of children at the Morton Public Library last month, was honored Tuesday by the Illinois House of Representatives. Vernon was the guest of State Representative Keith Sommer (R-Morton).

“At enormous risk to himself, and without concern for his own safety, James Vernon acted to save the lives of sixteen children visiting our public library,” Sommer said. “Without his bravery and his quick action, the result could have been an unspeakable tragedy.” 

Vernon’s actions came on October 13 while he was teaching chess to a group of students at the library. A man armed with two large knives burst into the room and threatened to kill the children. The Army veteran and long-time Morton resident attacked and subdued the man with his bare hands, suffering severe knife wounds in the process. Thanks to his action, the children were able to escape the room without injury.

“I do this with the hope that I would be an inspiration and an example to others who might get in a tough spot and might need to stand up and do what’s right,” Vernon said.
“We honor and thank James Vernon for his act of great bravery in protecting the children at the Morton Public Library on October 13, 2015, and wish him the best in the future,” reads part of a resolution which the House adopted after offering Vernon, watching from the gallery, a round of applause.
The resolution is HR842. Video of Rep. Sommer’s floor statement is available here.