Teen shot dead by South Carolina shop owner who suspected him of stealing water bottles

Teen shot dead by South Carolina shop owner who suspected him of stealing water bottles
NBC News, News 19 WLTX
Carl Samson
May 31, 2023
A 14-year-old boy was fatally shot after being suspected of shoplifting at a gas station convenience store in South Carolina over the weekend.
The incident occurred at the Xpress Mart Shell station on Parklane Road in Columbia at around 8 p.m. on Sunday. The gas station’s owner, 58-year-old Rick Chow, is now facing murder charges.
Chow believed that the teenager — identified as Cyrus Carmack-Belton — was stealing water bottles from his store. 
He allegedly chased the boy out of the store and shot him further down the road.
Police reviewed surveillance footage and determined that the alleged shoplifting did not occur, according to WIS TV. They said a verbal confrontation ensued inside the store but did not escalate to anything physical.
Chow’s son reportedly told his father that Carmack-Belton was armed. 
They both chased him out of the store before Chow allegedly shot him in the right lower back.
A gun was recovered near Carmack-Belton’s body. However, there is purportedly no evidence that he threatened Chow with it.
Rick Chow. Image via Richland County Sheriff’s Department
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott described the incident as “senseless” in a press conference Monday.
“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,” he said.
Lott said there had been prior shoplifting incidents at the store, resulting in confrontations between Chow and other customers. Some reportedly described the store owner as “rude” and “nasty” to customers.
Looters hijacked a peaceful protest held at the station on Monday night. 
Lott said they will be arrested.
“We had one tragedy the other night when the 14-year-old was shot. Why in the world did we have to continue to have what we had last night with people just going out and stealing and trying to destroy? That’s not what this is about,” Lott said, as per CBS News. “That’s not what the family of that 14-year-old wants.”
Chow, who is being held at the Richland County Jail, made his initial court appearance on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. A bond hearing is expected later.
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