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'Long road ahead of him': Employee shot at Edmonton Pizza Hut enters physiotherapy

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The Pizza Hut employee who was shot at his workplace earlier this month is on the long road to recovery, his sister has confirmed Tuesday to CTV News Edmonton.

Rich Albert, 55, was shot at the Pizza Hut location at 133 Street and 114 Avenue shortly after 12:30 a.m. on March 12.

In security video from the restaurant, a hooded person is seen entering the Pizza Hut and waving a long-barrel gun, before shooting Rich.

Police now say that gun was also used to kill two Edmonton Police Service officers responding to a family dispute call on March 16.

Constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan were shot when they arrived at the apartment suite where the call originated.

The complex is across the street from the strip mall where the Pizza Hut is located.

A 16-year-old boy is suspected by investigators as the shooter in both cases.

After the two officers were shot, police say he struggled with his mother over the firearm, shooting her multiple times, before fatally shooting himself in the head.

His mother is still recovering in hospital.

'PROGRESSING DAY-BY-DAY'

Leslie Albert spoke to CTV News Edmonton about her brother from her home near Regina on Tuesday, the day after the funeral for the two officers.

"Rich is progressing day-by-day," she said.

"He has a few setbacks from time to time, but thus far, he’s doing fairly decent given the circumstances."

Rich was placed in intensive care at the University of Alberta Hospital following the shooting. On March 24 he was moved to a rehabilitation facility, Leslie said, and on Monday he began scheduled physiotherapy and speech therapy for his injuries.

"He was shot in the head. The bullet passed through the left side of his eyebrow, right above his eye is where the bullet entered. He has lost the use of his eye, he will be blind in one eye for sure," Leslie said.

"He is going to have a long road ahead of him, and in what functionalities, brain wise, being a traumatic brain injury, so we don’t know at this time what, if any, cognitive issues he will have, memory issues, coordination, everything is just brand new."

Leslie said her brother is able to speak, and walk, and he recognizes his family members, including his wife and adult children, but the Rich they knew isn't the same.

Rich Albert and his wife Norma. (Source: GoFundMe)

"He’s got such a vibrant personality. He can talk to and be around anybody, and people love him. And to see that part of him taken away for the time that he’s here in the hospital. I can’t describe it in words. It’s horrible."

Leslie said Rich worked part-time at the Pizza Hut delivering pizzas for the past six months, while maintaining a full time job during the day.

She said he loved delivering pizzas.

"He lived and grew up here in Regina and he delivered pizzas when he lived here, he delivered pizzas when they moved to Winnipeg, he loved the aspect of socialization in that respect. He genuinely enjoyed it. So he continued that when they moved to Edmonton."

'A HORRIBLE SHOCK'

With Rich now recovering, the family is struggling to come to terms with the events that landed him in hospital, and the killing of two police officers.

"It was definitely a shock. I mean, a horrible shock," she said.

"I guess, like the general public, I have seen and followed some of the media that has surrounded these events, and I’ve got the same questions that people do. How does a 16-year-old acquire a firearm?"

Leslie said Rich is aware that he was shot, and of the deaths of Constables Jordan and Ryan.

"He has spoken about the shooter, he has spoken about the shooter’s mom. And that he is one of the ones who has survived."

Rich has a long road ahead of him to recover, but Leslie said he's motivated to come home.

Rich Albert (Credit: Albert family)

"He’s a fighter, and I know that he has his goals, I think in his own mind, to get back home and get back to life. So he does have his own personal things I believe that will drive him to get better."

There's no timeline on when he'll be able to return home, so Rich's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.

Leslie said they're grateful to everyone who has donated.

"Rich’s family loves him, and is praying for him. We appreciate and thank everybody for their prayers and support with the GoFundMe, and I’m hoping that he recovers to the way he was."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk. 

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