SC store owner arrested after police say he shot 14-year-old he thought was shoplifting to death

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina gas station owner was arrested on murder charges after deputies say he shot a 14-year-old boy he thought was stealing water to death.

The incident happened at an Xpress Mart Shell station in Columbia on Sunday night.

Deputies said Rick Chow, 58, thought the teen, Cyrus Carmack-Belton, had shoplifted four bottles of water and confronted him. Carmack-Belton ran from the store and Chow chased him, gunning him down in the street.

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“It’s senseless, it doesn’t make sense,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “You have a family that’s grieving, we have a community that’s grieving over a 14-year-old who was shot.”

Deputies reviewed surveillance video and determined that Carmack-Belton was not shoplifting.

“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,” Lott said.


The Richland County coroner said the teen suffered one gunshot wound to the lower back. Lott said he was running away when he was shot.

Representative Todd Rutherford posted a picture of Cyrus, saying he has known the family for years and what happened to Cyrus was not an accident.

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“It’s something that the Black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled then shot down in the street like a dog,” Rutherford said in an emotional post on Facebook. “I’m asking that our community continue to wrap their arms around this family as they’ve joined the club that no Black family ever wants to be a part of.”

Columbia is about an hour from the Georgia border.