COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — In a tragic incident on Sunday, 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton was shot in the back and killed by Rick Chow, a South Carolina convenience store owner, who wrongly accused him of shoplifting, according to police. The confrontation led to a chase, ending with Carmack-Belton’s shooting. Chow, 58, was arrested on Monday and charged with murder.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott confirmed that there was no evidence of Carmack-Belton shoplifting. The boy had entered the store and got into an argument with Chow and his son, leading to the boy fleeing. Chow, armed with a pistol, and his son pursued him to a nearby apartment complex where Chow shot the teen. A gun was later found near Carmack-Belton’s body, but there was no evidence he had threatened the Chows with it.
Carmack-Belton’s fatal wound caused significant damage to his heart. Despite the teen’s alleged act of taking four bottles of water from the store’s cooler, Sheriff Lott stated it did not justify a shooting.
Authorities have clarified that the shooting was not racially motivated. Carmack-Belton was Black and Chow is Asian. However, the incident sparked outrage in the community with protests outside the store and a break-in. Signs read “No child deserves to die over water” and “CLOSE IT DOWN” were posted.
Chow is currently in custody at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.