(SOUTH CAROLINA) — A South Carolina gas station owner was charged with murder on Monday after allegedly shooting and killing a 14-year-old boy he falsely believed was shoplifting bottles of water, according to police.
Rick Chow, 58, was arrested and charged in connection to the fatal shooting of Cyrus Carmack-Belton in Columbia, South Carolina, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office said.
In a news conference on Monday, Sheriff Leon Lott said the teenager did not shoplift from the Shell gas station, despite Chow’s belief that he did.
“He did not shoplift anything. We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever,” Lott said.
Police said there was a verbal confrontation inside the store before Cyrus left and took off running.
Lott said the convenience store owner, who police said was armed with a pistol, and his son chased after the teenager toward an apartment complex.
Cyrus fell during the chase, got up and was allegedly shot in the back by Chow, police said.
According to police, Chow’s son said the victim had a gun. Police said a gun was found close to the teen’s body, but there was no evidence of who the gun belonged to.
“Even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out the cooler and then he put them back, even if he had done that, that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old,” Lott said. “You just don’t do that.”
Following a peaceful protest at the gas station Monday, there was alleged vandalism and looting, which Lott condemned during a second press conference Tuesday, saying those who took part would be held responsible.
According to a police report, protesters shattered the business’s window, vandalized gas pumps, spray-painted outside the store and left the scene carrying beer and other food items.
Chow is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, according to police.
A date and time for his bond hearing has not been scheduled, police said.
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