Shopkeeper assault suspect caught
After three weeks on the lam, a London man wanted for the vicious beating of a variety store owner has been arrested.
Jessie Aaron McConnell, 22, was picked up Monday in Waterloo Region and charged with one count of aggravated assault, London police said.
McConnell was identified as a suspect on Oct. 22, one day after Rajaie “Roger” El Shorafa, 56, was found critically injured outside his variety store at 216 Horton St.
EL Shorafa suffered life-threatening head injuries and was in critical condition until last week, when his hospital status was improved to fair.
No details of the arrest have been released by police.
El Shorafa has been a fixture in the neighbourhood for more than two decades, working the small business seven days a week.
A benefit concert and a gofundme. com campaign raised money for El Shorafa, his wife and three children. The family came to Canada in 1994, through Kuwait, after leaving the Palestinian part of Gaza.
McConnell remained out of sight since the attack, and, at one point, contacted the mother of his threeyear-old child and said he planned to leave the province.
El Shorafa was such a fixture in the SoHo neighbourhood, that more than $20,000 has been raised through a gofundme online campaign and a well-attended concert Nov. 3 at Call The Office.
The gofundme campaign was started by Shelby’s Food Express that’s just across the street from El Shorafa’s shop. The online donation site has raised $12,760.
“That’s great news,” said Yasser Ali, Shelby’s manager, when told of McConnell’s arrest.
Ali said the community outpouring “means a lot” to El Shorafa’s family, whose entire income came from the small variety store.
“The store’s been closed,” he said. “The family hasn’t been receiving any income, their bills haven’t been paid. I’m sure that this will help them get back up to date.”
Ali said he’s heard that El Shorafa has a long road to recovery.
“It’s a slow process,” he said and added that it could be months before he can come back to work.
While El Shorafa’s injuries are tragic, Ali said, the violence “brought the community, especially the SoHo community and the London community together” to support the shopkeeper.
Jesse McCabe, one of the organizers of the concert, said about $7,500 was raised at the event. He called the outpouring “incredible.”
McCabe is a drummer in one of the six bands that use the City Centre Storage Group building just a block from El Shorafa’s store who stepped up and performed to raise money for the family.
“That’s how it came together so darn quick was I put the call out and the bands that practise there came on board. It got bigger than I expected,” he said.
Not only did the SoHo community step up, so did many others who don’t necessarily frequent the area, but may have had even just one meeting with El Shorafa at the shop.
“Everyone remembers their interaction with him because he’s such a great guy,” McCabe said.
McConnell’s arrest ends some of the “looming negativity” surrounding the attack.
“Hopefully this money can help sustain (the family) for a while and we’ll have our Roger at the store again,” he said.
Jessie Aaron McConnell