South Carolina store owner fatally shot 14-year-old boy in the back, sheriff says


A 14-year-old boy was fatally shot in the back Sunday by a South Carolina convenience store owner who wrongly accused him of shoplifting and chased him after a confrontation, authorities said.

Rick Chow, 58, was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the death of Cyrus Carmack-Belton.

“He didn’t steal anything,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters at a news conference Monday. “We have no evidence that he stole anything.”

The Xpress Mart convenience store in Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday.Jeffrey Collins/AP

Carmack-Belton walked into the convenience store on Parklane Road in Columbia around 8 p.m., Lott said. At some point, the teenager, Chow and the owner’s son began arguing, Lott said, without specifying what led to the dispute. Eventually, Carmack-Belton stormed out of the store and ran, Lott added.

The owner, armed with a gun, and his son chased the teen into a nearby apartment complex, Lott said, adding that Carmack-Belton fell at one point but got back up.

Chow’s son said Carmack-Belton had a gun, which is when the owner shot him in the back as he fled, Lott said. Authorities later recovered a gun next to the teen’s body, but the sheriff said there was no evidence the teen ever pointed the gun at Chow or his son.

The wound caused bleeding and significant damage to Carmack-Belton’s heart, Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Cyrus Carmack-Belton’s name was spray-painted on the front of the store.Richland County Sheriff’s Department

“It doesn’t make sense,” Lott said. “Has no sense. You have a family that is grieving. We have a community that is grieving a 14-year-old boy who was shot.”

He said that even if Carmack-Belton took something from the store, it did not justify a shooting.

“Regardless, even if he had stolen four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out of the cooler and then put back, even if he had, that’s not, that’s not something you shoot anyone for, let alone a 14-year-old,” Lott said.

The investigation determined that the shooting was “not a bias-motivated incident,” according to a sheriff’s department report. Carmack-Belton was black. Chow is Asian.

Democratic state representative Todd Rutherford said in a instagram post that what happened to the teen “was not an accident. It’s something the black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled and then being gunned down in the street like a dog. Words cannot describe the pain I feel knowing this “. family for decades.”

“I ask that our community continue to embrace this family as they have joined the club that no black family wants to be a part of. You are outraged. I am outraged,” she added.

Toppled shelves inside the store.
Toppled shelves inside the store.Richland County Sheriff’s Department

A crowd gathered outside the store on Monday to protest, according to the report. At 9:43 p.m., several people broke into the store and pulled items off the shelves, he said.

Footage from the aftermath shows Carmack-Belton’s name spray painted on the store, as well as broken glass and trash. Signs reading “No child deserves to die over water” and “SHUT IT DOWN” were pasted outside the store.

Inside, the racks were knocked down.

Chow was in custody Tuesday at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the sheriff’s department said.

An attorney for Chow did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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