The owner of a South Carolina convenience store is facing murder charges after allegedly shooting a 14-year-old in the back he suspected of shoplifting.
Cyrus Carmack-Belton was killed Sunday after being confronted by 58-year-old Rick Chow in a Columbia convenience store and accused of shoplifting. Carmack-Belton fled the store only to be chased by Chow, who was armed with a pistol, and his son, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott revealed in a press conference Monday.
“At some point, the son said … that the victim had a gun – and we did recover a gun that was close to his body. At that point, the father shot the young man in the back,” Lott stated.
Lott revealed that police found “no evidence” that Carmack-Belton had shoplifted anything. “Regardless, even if he had shoplifted…that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old,” Lott stated in the press conference. (RELATED: ‘He Was Killed For…$14’: Footage Reveals Security Gard Shooting Alleged Shoplifter)
Chow was arrested and charged with Carmack-Belton’s murder on May 29 after investigators determined the victim did not threaten Chow or his son with a firearm, prompting either of them to fear for their lives, the sheriff stated.
“We are confident that this was done in a manner that we will now classify as a homicide. This was not an accidental shooting by any means,” Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford stated in the press conference. “This was a very intentional shooting. And unfortunately, Cyrus Carmack-Belton lost his life.”
Lott revealed that Chow’s store had been targeted multiple by shoplifters before, many of whom were confronted by Chow. In some of those instances, Chow was reportedly assaulted by the suspects he confronted. When asked whether any charges had been brought about over any of these previous confrontations, Lott reminded reporters Chow and his family had been assaulted in those incidents and none of the confrontations had ever risen to the level where he should have been charged.
“Last night it rose to that level and that’s why he’s charged with murder today,” the sheriff stated.