A 14-year-old boy was shot dead by a South Carolina shopkeeper after being falsely accused of shoplifting

A 14-year-old was fatally shot in the back on Sunday by a South Carolina supermarket owner who falsely accused him of shoplifting and was chasing him after an altercation, authorities said.

Rick Chow, 58, was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the death of Cyrus Carmack-Belton.

“He didn’t steal anything,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters in a news conference Monday. “We have no evidence that he stole anything.”

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Carmack-Belton entered the supermarket on Parklane Road in Columbia around 8 p.m. (local time), Lott said.

At one point, the teenager, Chow, and the owner’s son began fighting, according to the sheriff, who didn’t elaborate on what led to the argument. Eventually, Carmack-Belton left the store and ran, Lott added.

Rick Chow was arrested and charged with murder. Credit: Richland County Sheriff’s Department

The gun-armed owner and his son pursued the teenager to a nearby apartment complex, Lott said, adding Carmack-Belton fell once but got back up.

Chow’s son said the teen had a gun, after which the owner shot Carmack-Belton in the back while trying to escape, according to the sheriff. Authorities later recovered a gun next to the teenager’s body.

The wound caused bleeding and significant damage to Carmack-Belton’s heart, added Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford. He was taken to a hospital, where his death was pronounced.

“It’s pointless,” Lott said. “It makes no sense. You have a family that is grieving. We have a community mourning the loss of a 14 year old who was shot.”

The sheriff said even if Carmack-Belton stole something from the store, a shooting wasn’t warranted.

“Anyway, even if he stole four bottles of water, he would first take out the cooler and then put it back,” he added. “Even if he did, that wouldn’t be the case — you don’t shoot someone for that, let alone a 14-year-old.”

According to a sheriff’s office report, the investigation concluded the shooting was “not a biased incident.”

Disassembled shelves in the store. Credit: Richland County Sheriff’s Department

According to a police report, a crowd gathered outside the store on Monday to protest. At 9:43 p.m. (local time), several people broke into the store and took items from the shelves.

Pictures of the aftermath show Carmack-Belton’s name spray-painted on the store, along with broken glass and trash. Signs outside the store read “No child deserves to die from water” and “SHUT IT DOWN.”

Inside, shelves have been knocked down.

According to the sheriff’s office, Chow was held in custody at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center Tuesday.

An attorney for Chow did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mark Hueppauff has been jailed after causing a head-on collision that killed a couple after a doctor told him he was unfit to drive.

Mark Hueppauff has been jailed after causing a head-on collision that killed a couple after a doctor told him he was unfit to drive.

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: jamesbrien@24ssports.com.

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