tejeshwar kalia

Over $12k raised for Ontario store clerk facing jail time for hitting robber back

The community is rallying around an Ontario store clerk who fought back during the attempted robbery of his Circle K store back in January and is now facing up to more than a dozen years in prison for aggravated assault as a result.

Tejeshwar Kalia, a 22-year-old international student, used the criminal's own bat aganist him in an attempt to thwart the robbery, which took place in the wee hours of the morning on January 5.

Claiming he was simply defending himself and feared for his life after being struck on the head, Kalia was able to wrestle the weapon from the thief's hands and chase him out of the shop, delivering several blows upon the 37-year-old perpetrator in the process.

The suspect, who is now pleading guilty to robbery, was given 18 months behind bars, compared to the 14 years that Kalia could get. Many are thus seeing the case against him as a serious miscarriage of justice in the province, and have launched a fundraiser to help pay for the student's legal bills, as well as show their support for him in this situation.

The GoFundMe, launched late last week with the name "What happened to self defense in Canada?", has collected more than a whopping $12,000 in just a few days at the time of publication.

The organizer, a personal friend of Kalia, deems the assault charges against him "unjust," and includes a message from the clerk himself in the appeal.

In it, the victim-turned-accused asks for the public's help, but also expresses his gratefulness for all those who have encouraged him thus far and helped him secure bail.

"While working the night shift at Circle K in downtown Peterborough, I found myself in a harrowing situation: A person attempted to threaten and rob me, unleashing a torrent of violence upon me, leaving me with three painful blows to my head and spine," Kalia writes.

"In the desperate act of self-defense, I fought back, resulting in my current legal situation. These charges have placed an immense financial burden upon me, leaving me unable to work and with depleted savings. However, amidst this darkness, the light of our community shines brightly... I am humbled by the kindness and generosity."

Kalia's legal team is hoping that security footage of the incident will help clear him of the charges.

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