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South Carolina store owner chases and kills 14-year-old boy, sheriff says

On Sunday evening, a convenience store owner in Columbia, South Carolina brandished a gun as he chased a 14-year-old boy from his store down the street, officials said. Rick Chow, 58, believed the teenager, Cyrus Carmack-Belton, had shoplifted, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Monday.

Chow, who was accompanied by his son, chased Carmack-Belton across the street to a nearby apartment building, Lott said. Chow’s son said Carmack-Belton also carried a gun.

Chow then allegedly shot Carmack-Belton in the back, killing him.

Carmack-Belton, who was found with a gun near his body, hadn’t stolen anything from Chow’s store, Lott said after investigators reviewed surveillance footage.

“Even if he had done that, it’s not something you shoot for,” he added. “Much less a 14-year-old.”

Chow was arrested on Monday and charged with murder, Lott said, calling the facts of the case “disturbing.” Crowds gathered outside Chow’s store on Monday to protest the murder and the alarming escalation Lott described that allegedly led to the black teenager’s death. Chow, who is Asian, was jailed after an initial court appearance on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.

“It’s insane,” Lott said Monday. ” That does not make sense. We have a grieving family, we have our grieving community.

A lawyer for Chow did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

Chow’s convenience store has previously had instances of shoplifting, Lott said, adding that Chow had other confrontations with customers.

Around 8 p.m. Sunday, Chow accused Carmack-Belton of shoplifting, and the two argued inside the store, Lott said.

Investigators found no evidence that Carmack-Belton stole anything from the store after reviewing surveillance footage and speaking to witnesses, Lott said. Before the argument, Carmack-Belton took four water bottles out of a cooler and then put them back, Lott said.

Carmack-Belton then ran out of the store. Chow and his son chased Carmack-Belton from the store to a block of flats on an adjacent street. Carmack-Belton fell as he ran away from the two, then got up and continued running, Lott said.

At some point during the chase, according to Lott, Chow’s son said he noticed Carmack-Belton had a gun. Chow then fired his own pistol, killing Carmack-Belton.

Officers recovered a firearm near Carmack-Belton’s body, Lott said. He died of a single gunshot wound to his lower back, Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said at Monday’s news conference. This suggested he was still on the run and posed no immediate danger to Chow when he was killed, Lott said, and informed the murder prosecution.

“We have reviewed the facts that transpired last night and have charged him appropriately,” Lott said.

Rutherford added that there were no additional injuries to Carmack-Belton’s body, except for a scratch from his fall during the chase, indicating that Carmack-Belton and Chow had not had physical altercation before the shooting.

A crowd gathered at the convenience store on Memorial Day to protest peacefully, according to an incident report from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. On Monday evening, officers responded to an alarm at the store and reported it had been vandalized.

Protesters spray-painted hearts and Carmack-Belton’s name on the walls of the store in red and black and stuck signs to the windows reading “Shut it down!” and “End Racism + Gun Violence”.

Applause erupted from the crowd on Monday afternoon when the charges against Chow were announced, WIS reported. One of Carmack-Belton’s brothers told WIS he was a “very smart” kid and his death had devastated their family, especially his mother.


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