A store clerk in California’s Bay Area is recovering from severe burn injuries after an alleged shoplifter doused him with kerosene and set him on fire nearly two weeks ago.
What happened: The clerk, identified only as Suraj, was alerted by a coworker about the repeat shoplifter at Appian Food and Liquor in El Sobrante on Sept. 22. It was the third time the suspect tried to steal lighter fluid that day, according to reports.
Surveillance video shows Suraj and the suspect getting into a physical confrontation, while his coworker grabs a baseball bat. In seconds, Suraj was up in flames.
“He just splashed lighter fluid on my face, and I was so scared that moment,” Suraj told KPIX 5. “I tried to cover his hand, but I don’t know. I don’t remember. He just lit the fire on me, you know.”
The aftermath: Suraj said he rushed to the restroom to splash water on his face. He was then taken to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns to his face, neck, chest and shoulder.
Suspect arrested: Authorities arrested Kendall Lavanon Burton, 38, in connection with the incident. He is facing multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, battery, arson causing bodily injury and mayhem.
Burton is reportedly a repeat offender, with a criminal history dating back to 2004. He has robbery and burglary convictions in Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties, as per KRON 4.
What’s next: Suraj is on the road to recovery. His wife set up a GoFundMe page to ask for help for his medical bills.
“Wounds by the burn take time to heal and recover,” his wife wrote. “We are overwhelmed by the mental trauma and the pressure of medical procedures.”
Burton, on the other hand, is being held without bail. He will return to court on Oct. 9.
Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.
Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.
We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.