Cops: Store Owner Shot 14-Year-Old as He Ran Away

Rick Chow wrongly thought Cyrus Carmack-Belton had been shoplifting, sheriff says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2023 7:43 PM CDT
Cops: Store Owner Killed Teen He Thought Had Shoplifted
This image provided by the Richland County Sheriff's Department shows Rick Chow, who has been charged, Monday, May 29, 2023, with murder in the death of a 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton.   (Richland County Sheriff's Department via AP)

A 14-year-old boy was fatally shot Sunday by the owner of a gas station and convenience store in South Carolina who wrongly believed he had been shoplifting, authorities say. Rick Chow, 58, has been charged with murder in death of Cyrus Carmack-Belton, NBC reports. Police say Chow chased the teen and shot him in the back after a confrontation at Chow's Xpress Mart Shell station in Columbia around 8pm. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Carmack-Belton fled the store after an argument with Chow and Chow's son.

Lott said Chow shot the teen after his son told him he had a gun. A firearm was found next to Carmack-Belton's body, but there is no evidence he pointed it at Chow or his son, the sheriff said. Richland County Coroner Nadia Rutherford said the teen was shot while he was running, the AP reports. "I was at the autopsy. I looked at his body inside and outside," she told a crowd at the gas station Monday. "He had one shot to the back, which is why Mr. Chow is being charged with murder."

Lott said Chow wrongly thought the teen had stolen four bottles of water from a cooler—but "even if he had done that ... that's not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old." The sheriff and the coroner appealed for calm from the community Monday, but windows at the store were broken Monday night and thousands of dollars in merchandise was stolen, WIS reports. The AP reports that graffiti including the words "Cyrus" and "14" covered the walls and a sign taped to the door said, " Water or Life? Which means more?" Lott said Tuesday that deputies are now watching over the property. (More South Carolina stories.)

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