On Sunday, May 29, 2023 at around 8:00 p.m. EST, 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton visited the “XPress Mart” Shell gas station and convenience store located at 7441 Parklane Road in Columbia, South Carolina.
The middle school student did not make it home alive, though. He was shot in the back by the convenience store’s owner, 58-year-old Rick Chow, following a foot pursuit involving Chow and his son. Carmack-Belton had been suspected of shoplifting by Chow, however at this point there is no evidence to support that allegation.
According to Richland County sheriff Leon Lott, Carmack-Belton entered the convenience store and retrieved four water bottles – but reportedly put them back in the cooler prior to departing. Nonetheless, at some point while he was inside the store a verbal altercation ensued between Carmack-Belton and Chow.
What was said? We don’t know. But we do know the outcome of the dispute …
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“Fourteen-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton of Columbia died from a single gunshot wound to his right lower back,” Richland County coronor Naida Rutherford stated at a press conference. “The fatal shot caused significant damage to his heart and hemorrhaging.”
Rutherford stated there was “no indication (Carmack-Belton) was shot inside the store” and that his wound was consistent with someone running from an assailant.
Carmack-Belton was allegedly chased from the store onto the 200 block of Springtree Drive by Chow and his son – which is where the fatal shot was fired. A handgun was retrieved near the victim’s body but according to authorities there is no indication that the 14-year-old shot or pointed the gun at the store owner or his son.
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“This was not an accidental shooting by any means, this was a very intentional shooting,” Rutherford said.
Lott agreed with that assessment.
“You don’t shoot somebody in the back that is not a threat to you,” the sheriff said at a press conference on the incident this week. “Same standard the cops live by.”
Chow – who has a valid concealed weapons permit – has been charged with murder in Carmack-Belton’s shooting. He is currently being held at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center south of Columbia, S.C.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Chow is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges that may be filed against him.
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Richland County school district two – whose schools Carmack-Belton attended – released a statement Sunday.
“The Richland two family is devastated to learn of the tragic death of one of our Summit Parkway Middle School student,” the statement noted. “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.”
Authorities are reportedly reviewing surveillance videos from the store as their investigation into the incident continues. After the shooting, crowds gathered and vandalized Chow’s store – which had a sign up on Monday indicating it was closed for the Memorial Day holiday. Later, windows were smashed and widespread looting took place.
Lott condemned the looting and dispatched deputies to safeguard the property. He also indicated he planned to file charges against those who participated in the looting.
“What does stealing a case of beer have to do with a 14-year-old being shot?” he asked. “The taxpayers are paying for us to guard that store because a limited number of individuals who want to do something like that instead of going out there in memory of this 14-year-old boy.”
Rutherford also pleaded with the community to “please be peaceful.”
Chow’s convenience store has had numerous incidents of shoplifting in the past – and there have been confrontations between the owner and shoppers – but none have risen to this level.
Keep it tuned to FITSNews for updates on this story …
UPDATE | Mother of victim demands additional charges …
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