South Carolina store owner Rick Chow has been charged in the shooting death of 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton.
Store Owner Rick Chow Charged With Murder After Shooting 14-Year-Old Boy
According to WIS-TV, Chow allegedly believed the teen shoplifted a bottle of water from his Shell gas station in Columbia when the shooting occurred around 8 p.m. Sunday.
However, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott refuted Chow’s shoplifting claims and said even if the teen had stolen, it would not have warranted what followed.
“Regardless, even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out of the cooler and then he put them back, even if he’d done that, that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old, but you just don’t do that,” Sheriff Lott said.
Authorities say, Chow, 58, and his son chased Carmack-Belton outside the store before gunning the boy down. Sheriff Lott called the boy’s death “senseless.”
“It’s senseless; it doesn’t make sense,” Sheriff Lott said during a Memorial Day press conference. “You have a family that’s grieving, we have a community that’s grieving over a 14-year-old who was shot.”
Rick Chow, owner of a Shell gas station in Columbia, SC, MURDERED Cyrus Carmack-Belton, a 14 yr old Black boy, over a bottle of water.
Asian Americans have a history of anti-Blackness, exploiting Black neighborhoods, policing Black bodies, and appropriating Black culture. pic.twitter.com/hcrnl8NY0M
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) May 30, 2023
Store Owner Believed Teen Had Shoplifted And Was Armed, Police Say
Chow’s son reportedly told his father that Carmack-Belton was armed, according to RCSD. Deputies ultimately recovered a gun near the victim’s body, believed to be Carmack-Belton’s.
However, RCSD said there is no evidence that Carmack-Belton ever pointed the gun at or threatened Chow in any way, according to the outlet.
Sheriff Lott added that Carmack-Belton was running away from Chow when he was shot. Meanwhile, Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford said the boy suffered one gunshot wound to the right lower back.
Investigators believe Chow “had a concealed weapons permit” and the “firearm was legally owned.”
Lott went on to say that there have been several reported incidents and confrontations at the store. However, he said none of those past incidents would have led Chow to believe he was in danger.
Chow’s Shell Gas Station Vandalized By Protesters A Day After Deadly Shooting
On Monday, WIS-TV reported that Chow’s store had been vandalized after protests there turned destructive, police say.
Deputies responded to the location around 9:30 p.m. on Monday. Upon arrival, they say they found shattered windows and a large group of people stealing merchandise inside the store.
“This type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” said Sheriff Lott. “Individuals involved will be identified and prosecuted.”
HAPPENING TODAY: This is the scene today at the Shell gas station on Parklane Drive in Columbia.
— Sydni Edwards (@SydniSpeakstv) May 30, 2023
Meanwhile, an investigation into the incident is ongoing, deputies added.
Law & Crime reports that Chow’s first court appearance is scheduled for June 23.