Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Alleged Shoplifter Ignites Confrontation by Setting Store Clerk Ablaze

Alleged Shoplifter Ignites Confrontation by Setting Store Clerk Ablaze 

A store employee, who made an attempt to thwart a man's third theft within a single day, found himself set ablaze during the encounter. Surveillance footage captured the disturbing moment when the assailant doused the worker with lighter fluid and ignited him.

The victim, identified only as Suraj for safety concerns, suffered second and third-degree burns on his face, neck, chest, and shoulder as a result of the attack. Speaking from his hospital bed, Suraj expressed the trauma he and his family are currently enduring.

"It's terrible. You know, I'm still in trauma right now, me, my family," he shared, highlighting the excruciating pain he endures during wound cleaning, describing it as "like over 10."

Having been a clerk at Appian Food and Liquor in El Sobrante for approximately five years, Suraj revealed that while dealing with shoplifters is not uncommon, an incident of this magnitude had never occurred before. On that fateful day, he and a coworker confronted a repeat offender who had stolen lighter fluid on multiple occasions. Suraj attempted to intervene, while his colleague grabbed a bat for protection.

"He just splashed lighter fluid on my face, and I was so scared at that moment," recounted Suraj. "I tried to cover his hand, but I don't know. I don't remember. He just lit the fire on me, you know. I just rushed to the restroom, and I just splashed water on my face."

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office apprehended the suspect, 38-year-old Kendall Burton, a homeless individual in El Sobrante. Burton faces charges including assault with a deadly weapon, battery, arson, and robbery, and is being held without bail.

Expressing the need for increased safety measures, Suraj emphasized, "First of all, I would like to say nobody has to go through this kind of situation, and the small stores should have more security or something like that. The workplace should be safer."

Suraj, anticipating several surgeries and a prolonged recovery, is supported by his wife, Sabeena Parajuli, who initiated an online fundraiser to alleviate the burden of medical bills. He shared that his family is deeply affected, noting, "They cry all the time when they come here."

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