EAST ST. LOUIS — The armed gunman who stormed into a downtown pawnshop Thursday is still on the loose and the 51-year-old owner who was shot multiple times remains in critical condition.
Shopkeeper Larry Osborn is paralyzed and may never walk again, his wife Petra Osborn said. His son, Matt Osborn, said he may be paralyzed from the arm pits down as a result of the bullet wounds he sustained to his neck and shoulder.
Larry Osborn was shot inside his East St. Louis Jewelry, Pawn and Loan at 208 Collinsville Ave.
Matt Osborn is pleading with anyone who may know the gunman to call the police.
"If he did this to my father, he will do it again and again until he is caught," Matt Osborn said. "He was not just trying to wound my dad. He was trying to murder him. He needs to be off the street."
Larry Osborn has operated the business for 14 years.
"East St. Louis has a lot of hurt and need," said Petra Osborn said. "My husband, while he was making a living to support our family, cared about people and helped out where he could. That's why this whole incident is even more troubling to our family."
"The future prognosis for my husband is very challenging. He is in critical condition. My husband is paralyzed and may never walk again. This man has changed our lives and shortened Larry's perhaps. I want the man who did this to him caught.
Petra Osborn, who has been married to Larry Osborn since 1985, said the couple has four children.
She said her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer one year after they married and has only one lung.
"He was 27 when he learned he had cancer. Larry's health has been a problem for a long time. Life has just not been fair," she said.
Petra Osborn said her husband dreamed of becoming a police officer and went to school at night for five years to accomplish the goal.
He got his degree, but the opportunity he sought was not afforded to him because he only had one lung. But, he kept on fighting for an opportunity and finally the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department hired him. He worked a while, but realized his condition would not permit him to stay on there.
Larry Osborn found work with a railroad company and worked there five years before he was laid off, his wife said.
Petra said her husband had been working part time at a friend's pawnshop, now the business he owns, so when he was laid off by the railroad company, he started working at the pawnshop full time. He learned a lot about the business and eventually bought it.
Petra Osborn said she and her daughter are in college. "I was two weeks away from finishing my first year of this program. Now, that is on hold. And, I do not have a job to turn to. Am I panicked? Yes, but right now my husband getting well and coming back to our family is the most important thing to me," she said.
While a complete assessment of things taken from the store has not been done, Matt Osborn said the gunman took his father's wallet and some jewelry before he fled.
The business has not opened since the shooting and Matt Osborn said it will be closed "until further notice."
Illinois State Police Capt. Jim Morrisey said investigators have a few leads, but the public is encouraged to call Illinois State Police with any information they may have. If you can help police, call Illinois State Police at 618-346-3990 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.