The prime minister’s office, along with merchants and neighbours, offered support to a Toronto restaurant owner who scuffled with a suspected robber then wound up facing assault charges himself.
CBC News broke the story on Wednesday of Naveen Polapady, owner of Maroli, an Indian restaurant at 630 Bloor St. W., near Euclid Ave.
Last August Polapady scuffled with a man he said had repeatedly tried to break into the building that is both his business and residence.
A security image captured Polapady, armed with a short length of broom handle, struggling with the man.
Police later caught and questioned the man but charged Polapady with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. He was also charged with administering a noxious substance, because Polapady threw some restaurant spices at the man.
Police have confirmed with CBC the man Polapady tussled with has a criminal record that includes theft convictions. In 2007 he was convicted of possession of stolen property.
On Thursday, one day after the story aired on CBC and was posted on CBC.ca, Polapady said he’s been flooded phone and email messages of support.
"I've had overwhelming support from my neighbours, my friends, my customers. They are all calling and offering support,” he told CBC News.
The prime minister’s office also called Polapady, offering support.
"It is a great to know that people are supportive of justice,” said Polapady.
Many merchants along that stretch of Bloor Street West spoke to CBC News and said they’ve also been targeted by thieves.
Nung Ma owns a nearby jewelry store.
"I think [Polapady] did the right thing,” Ma told CBC News. “I had a robbery here too. And we couldn't get nothing because they got away."
Polapady’s case is similar to a 2009 incident in which a shop owner in Toronto’s Chinatown neighbourhood was charged after tying up a man who had robbed his store. A judge later threw out the charges.
The story of that merchant, David Chen, drew headlines around the country and prompted the government to introduce a bill to clarify the rights of people forced to defend themselves or their property against criminals.
The bill, which is currently in second reading, became known as the Lucky Moose bill, named after Chen's shop.
Polapady said the contact from the PMO’s office mentioned the Chen case when they called him on Thursday.