SAN FRANCISCO—A store clerk in the Bay Area has been injured after being set on fire with lighter fluid on September 22. The clerk, whose name is Suraj was working at Appian Food and Liquor in El Sobrante, when he confronted a thief, Kendall Burton who entered the establishment and took lighter fluid for a third consecutive time.
After Suraj was notified about the theft from a co-worker, he confronted the thief and a scuffled erupted. . Suraj’s co-worker goes behind the counter to grab a bat as his colleague struggles with the suspect, before the assailant poured the lighter fluid on Suraj’s head and lit him on fire.
In the video you can see Suraj’s face, head and back on fire before he flees to the bathroom to douse himself with water to extinguish the flames. The victim has been working at the establishment for more than 5 years and is being treated for serious burns to his face, chest, shoulder and neck.
His wife, Sabeena Parajuli started a GoFundMe page to help with costs for her husband’s medical care. As of Monday, October 2, more than $22,000 has been raised of a goal of $100,000.
“My husband encountered a horrific work place incident. He was attacked with kerosene fluid and his body was set on fire by a shoplifter while he was working at his store in El Sobrante, CA on 22nd September 2023,” his wife posted on the GoFundMe page. She added her husband was out of danger at the moment as he was being treated at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.
“As wounds by the burn takes time to heal and recover and we are overwhelmed by the mental trauma and the pressure of medical procedures. So we are reaching out to you to request for any support or contributions to this fundraiser. Your support would be invaluable and greatly appreciated,” Sabeena added.
Denise Knott who donated $50 indicated she and her husband have visited the store and “they are nothing but nice. Wishing a mist speedy recovery.”
Burton was arrested and has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, arson, robbery and batter. No bail has been granted for the suspect. The crime rate in Contra Costa County has risen since 2022 after the election of District Attorney Diana Becton. Her campaign during her election received funds from billionaire George Soros. The city of Antioch has seen a 10 percent rise in crime since Diana Becton has taken office. Crime rates have also risen in Alameda and San Francisco County in recent years. San Francisco recently recalled its District Attorney Chesa Boudin as a result of the rising crime in the region. He was replaced by Brooke Jenkins.
Suraj explained to CBS Bay Area from his hospital bed that his family “cry all the time” when they visit him. He also advocated for more security at smaller stores to prevent future incidents like his from transpiring. He is expected to have a series of surgeries as part of his recovery process to address the burns and injuries sustained.