Violent Homeless Serial Shoplifter Sets California Store Clerk On Fire [Video]

by J Pelkey
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El Sobrante, California – Surveillance footage captured a horrifying incident on Sunday, where a homeless serial shoplifter with a violent criminal history set a store clerk on fire after the clerk attempted to prevent the thief from stealing.

The horrible event unfolded on September 22nd at Appian Food and Liquor in El Sobrante. The victim, Suraj, was immediately taken to San Francisco’s Saint Francis Memorial Hospital following the assault and has been hospitalized since then.

In a video obtained by CBS News Bay Area on Sunday, the footage shows Suraj struggling with the assailant just moments before he was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire. Another store employee rushed to Suraj’s aid, armed with a baseball bat, while additional clerks arrived to help subdue the assailant, as reported by CBS News Bay Area.

Watch (Warning Graphic):

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Suraj sustained second and third-degree burns to his face, neck, shoulders, and chest. In an interview with CBS News Bay Area, he recounted the excruciating pain he is currently enduring as a result of the assault.

During his interview, Suraj disclosed that he had been employed as a clerk at the El Sobrante store for five years, and they frequently dealt with incidents involving shoplifters. However, he emphasized that this particular incident was by far the most severe they had ever encountered.

Suraj became aware of a recurring shoplifter who consistently stole lighter fluid during his shifts. After the thief’s third theft, Suraj decided to confront him, which ultimately led to the horrifying act of setting him on fire.

Speaking with CBS News Bay Area, Suraj emphasized the need for better security in stores like his, stressing that no one should have to endure the traumatic experience he went through.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office has reported the arrest of the suspect, 38-year-old Kendall Burton, who is homeless in El Sobrante.

Burton is now facing multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, battery, arson, and robbery. He is currently in custody without the possibility of posting bail.

From CBS New Bay Area:

EL SOBRANTE — A store clerk who tried to stop a man from stealing a third time in one day was set on fire during the confrontation. 

Surveillance video captured the moment a man poured lighter fluid on the worker and set him on fire.

The attack left Suraj, who declined to share his last name for safety reasons, with second and third-degree burns on his face, neck, chest and shoulder. 

He has been hospitalized since Sept. 22. 

“It’s terrible. You know, I’m still in a trauma right now, me, my family,” he said from his hospital bed.

“And when we clean the wound, it’s like over 10,” he said of the pain he’s experiencing.

Suraj said he’s worked as a clerk at Appian Food and Liquor in El Sobrante for about five years. He said workers deal with shoplifters often, but nothing like this has ever happened.

On this day, he said his coworker alerted him to the repeat shoplifter who stole lighter fluid each time. Suraj tried to stop him, while his co-worker grabbed a bat. 

“He just splashed lighter fluid on my face, and I was so scared that moment,” said 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 said deputies arrested the suspect, 38-year-old Kendall Burton, a homeless person in El Sobrante. He’s facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon, battery, arson and robbery. He’s being held without bail. 

“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,” he said. 

Suraj said he needs several surgeries and faces a long road to recovery. 

His wife, Sabeena Parajuli, started an online fundraiser to help with medical bills.

“They cry all the time when they come here,” he said of his family.

Burton has a violent past. The Marina Times revealed that he has a record with three felony convictions, one of which is for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.

Sabeena Parajuli, Suraj’s wife, started a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to assist with the medical bills. The campaign has raised more than $32,000 as of this report.

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