'He didn't deserve this': ESL pawnshop owner shot during brazen mid-day robbery

News-DemocratApril 26, 2013 

— The 51-year-old owner of a downtown pawn shop was shot shortly after noon Thursday during a robbery at his business, in which the thief got away with an undetermined amount of jewelry.

The East St. Louis Jewelry and Loan Pawn Shop at 208 Collinsville Ave., is just blocks away from the East St. Louis Police Department. The shop was shut down while police officers, investigators and crime scene technicians gathered information at the scene. They were checking surveillance cameras for a picture of a suspect.

East St. Louis Police Sgt. Marion Riddle was the lead investigator on the case before it was turned over to the Illinois State Police.

He said the owner was shot multiple times and the gunman fled with an undetermined amount of jewelry.

A sign on the front door of the business said "this business is under 24 hour TV surveillance."

Matt Osborn, the owner's son, stood feet away from the entrance to the business that he said belonged to his father for 14 years.

"My dad didn't deserve this. My dad is very caring. He takes people in and gives them food and money. He didn't deserve this," a visibly-shaken Osborn said.

It was his father's dream to open his own business, he said.

"He is good with his hands. He is a self taught jeweler. He repairs and fixes jewelry and watches. Down here, he could be what he wanted to be. This was our family livelihood," Osborn said. The victim was a former St. Clair County Sheriff's deputy.

"If the person had no money and he asked my dad for help, he would help him. If the person was hungry, he would buy them a burrito or something," Osborn said.

The victim was taken to St. Louis University Hospital, where he was conscious and alert. Osborn said his father had been shot in the neck and shoulder area.

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore said the call came in to the police department at 12:30 p.m. The store has an open floor plan, so the large counter where large items are handed across does not have bullet proof glass.

Anyone with any information about the crime is urged to call Illinois State Police at 618-346-3990 or Crime Stoppers, an anonymous tip line that pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest, at 1-866-371-8477.

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