A Black 14-year-old was shot and killed after being wrongly accused of shoplifting by a South Carolina convenience store owner, authorities said Tuesday.
Convenience store owner Rick Chow, 58, allegedly shot Cyrus Carmack-Belton in the back following a heated exchange on Sunday, NBC News reported.
Chow was arrested Monday and charged with the teen’s murder, announced Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott during a Monday news briefing.
Lott said there was no evidence that Cyrus had stolen anything from the Shell gas station store in Columbia.
“He did not shoplift anything,” Lott stated. “We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever.”
Cyrus reportedly entered the convenience store around 8 p.m. and at some point, began arguing with Chow and the owner’s son.
Eventually, the youth took off running from the premises and Chow, armed with his pistol, chased him toward a local apartment complex, Lott said.
Chow’s son allegedly shouted to his father that the teen had a gun, which is when the owner fired a bullet into the teen’s back.
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Authorities said they found a gun next to the teen’s body. He was later taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“It’s senseless,” Lott said. “Regardless, even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water … even if he had done that, that’s not — that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old.”
Throughout the day Monday crowds gathered at the store to protest the incident.
Around 10 p.m., police report that several people broke into the store and caused damage inside.
Images of the incident show Cyrus’ name graffitied on the exterior, as well as signs taped up which read “No child deserves to die over water” and “CLOSE IT DOWN.”
Chow is currently being held in the Richland County jail, and a bond hearing will be held at a later date.
With News Wire Services