Fugi­tive sus­pect in va­ri­ety store at­tack ar­rested

The Observer (Sarnia) - - ONTARIO NEWS - POSTMEDIA NEWS JANE SIMS

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 morn­ing in Water­loo Re­gion and charged with one count of ag­gra­vated as­sault.

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 lifethreat­en­ing head in­juries and was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion un­til last week, when his hos­pi­tal sta­tus was im­proved to fair.

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.

No de­tails of the ar­rest have been re­leased by po­lice.

El Sho­rafa has been a fix­ture in the Soho neigh­bour­hood for more than two decades, work­ing the small business seven days a week.

A ben­e­fit con­cert and gofundme. com cam­paign raised more than $20,000 for the shop­keeper, his wife and three chil­dren. The fam­ily came to Canada in 1994, through Kuwait, af­ter leav­ing the Pales­tinian part of Gaza.

The gofundme cam­paign, started by Shelby’s Food Ex­press across the street from El Sho­rafa’s shop, has raised $12,760.

Yasser Ali, Shelby’s man­ager, 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 El Sho­rafa has a long road to re­cov­ery.

“It’s a slow process,” he said, adding it could be months be­fore he can return 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.”

Jesse MacCabe, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the con­cert Nov. 3 at Call the Of­fice, said about $7,500 was raised at the event. He called the out­pour­ing “in­cred­i­ble.”

MacCabe said peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to per­form and at­tend the event is a trib­ute to El Sho­rafa.

“Ev­ery­one re­mem­bers their in­ter­ac­tion with him be­cause he’s such a great guy,” MacCabe said.

“Hope­fully this money can help sus­tain (the fam­ily) for a while and we’ll have our Roger at the store again.” jsims@postmedia.com

McCon­nell

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