A Contra Costa County man, Kendall Lavanon Burton, 38, has been charged with mayhem for allegedly pouring lighter fluid on a store clerk and setting the victim on fire. The incident occurred on September 22 at Appian Food & Liquor in El Sobrante. Burton, along with another man, was confronted by the clerk while attempting to shoplift. During the scuffle, Burton threw flammable chemicals on the victim and ignited them using a lighter, according to court documents.
Surveillance video from the convenience store captured the moment the victim’s head caught fire. The victim’s co-worker tried to defend them with a baseball bat. The victim, identified as Suraj, suffered severe burns and was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco for treatment.
Prosecutors have charged Burton with aggravated mayhem, assault with caustic chemicals, arson causing great bodily injury, and robbery. The charges stem from Burton’s alleged extreme indifference to the victim’s well-being and intentional infliction of permanent disability and disfigurement.
Burton has a criminal history dating back to 2004, with convictions for multiple robberies and burglaries in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover Suraj’s hospital bills as they continue to recover from burn injuries.