What happened to Cyrus Carmack-Belton? Columbia gas station vandalized after owner fatally shoots 14-year-old boy
The Columbus, South Carolina community gathered on Monday, May 29, to honor the life of Cyrus Carmack-Belton, who was killed on Sunday by the owner of a Shell gas station and convenience store, Rick Chow.
Rick Chow, 58, has been accused of chasing Cyrus Carmack-Belton at around 8 pm on Sunday before shooting the teen in the back. Chow, who turned himself in to the Richland County Sheriff's Department on Monday afternoon, allegedly suspected the victim was shoplifting water bottles from his store.
However, authorities said that there is no evidence to suggest Cyrus Carmack-Belton had shoplifted merchandise from the store. Authorities also revealed that the store owner's son alleged that the victim had a gun, which supposedly turned out to be untrue. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott noted that even if the 14-year-old was guilty of shoplifting, it did not condone the suspect's actions.
“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.”
Chow was reportedly taken into custody and charged with murder.
Convenience store vandalized with spray paint after Cyrus Carmack-Belton was shot dead by owner
Outlining the incident, Law and Crime reported that on Sunday, Cyrus Carmack-Belton went into the Shell gas station and convenience store in Columbia, South Carolina, where he had a verbal confrontation after he was accused of shoplifting at the store.
Carmack-Belton, then reportedly took off running, after which he was chased by the store owner's son. Rick Chow soon followed suit after grabbing a gun from the store. Following a short pursuit, the victim was shot at the nearby Springtree Apartments.
On Monday, people gathered outside the convenience store to host a vigil to honor the life of the 14-year-old. WLTX reported that balloons, candles, and water bottles were lined down the street from the gas station to the crime scene.
People were also seen holding signs demanding justice for Cyrus Carmack-Belton. They also declared that the store should close shop for good.
A woman attending the vigil said:
"Justice will be served, starting at the bond hearing tomorrow where we request his bond be denied.”
The store was vandalized after people spray-painted the teen's name and age around the gas station. On Monday, authorities found that people had shattered the windows as a large crowd inside the store stole merchandise supposedly in retaliation for the killing.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Chow's gas station convenience store has had shoplifting incidents dating back years, adding that the suspect's family has also been assaulted in the past. The sheriff noted that this was the first time the situation had escalated to deadly violence.
“There've been many instances there, where this store owner has confronted people that've been shoplifting. There have been assaults on his family, too. He has not been charged in any of these other cases because they did not rise 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 said that Chow had been charged with murder after evidence suggested that the violence against the 14-year-old was unwarranted.