The Richland County Sheriff’s Department in South Carolina has charged a gas station owner with murder in the shooting death of a 14-year-old teenager.
The victim was identified as Cyrus Carmack Belton.
Sheriff Leon Lott gave an update Monday in the shooting that took the life of Cyrus, calling the crime “senseless.”
“You don’t do what happened last night,” Lott said.
Lott said around 8 p.m. Carmack-Belton went inside a Shell gas station on Parklane Road near Springtree Drive. The sheriff said the owner, identified as Rick Chow, accused the teen of shoplifting bottles of water. Lott said that wasn’t true: in point of fact, the teen had touched the bottles but put them back in the cooler.
Lott said the victim and the owner got into an argument and the teen left the store. The sheriff said the store owner’s son then began chasing the teen, with Chow following. The sheriff said Chow had a pistol.
The chase went near apartments on Springtree Drive, where the victim tripped and fell, but Lott said he then got back up. The son then told his father the teen had a gun, and a few moments later, Lott said Chow shot Carmack-Belton in the back.
Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said the gunshot wound caused injuries to the teen’s heart.
The sheriff said they investigated the case and said they did find a gun near the teen’s body. But they determined the gun was not pointed at the men and that the teen was shot as he had his back turned.
He said there’s been a lot of misinformation in the case, but this is what the investigation concluded.
“These are the facts of the case,” Lott said. “A tragic incident occurred and the person responsible has been arrested.”
Lott did acknowledge that the shop had a history of shoplifting and that the owner had confrontations with other people over the years. But he said that’s no excuse for the incident.
“It’s one of these things were you just stand up and shake your head,” he said. “There’s no reason for this to happen.”
Lott said Richland School District Two has been notified and they are making plans to help the students at his school.
“The Richland 2 family is devastated to learn of the tragic death of one of our Summit Parkway Middle School students,” the district said in a statement. “Our students, teachers and school staff are grieving and our district staff will be there tomorrow to support them through it. Our deepest sympathies go out to the Carmack-Belton family in their time of loss.”
“People pray for this family,” Lott asked. They’ve lost a 14-year-old middle school student.”