14-year-old shot dead by SC store owner who falsely accused him of shoplifting, sheriff says

A 14-year-old was shot in the back on Sunday by a South Carolina convenience store owner who falsely accused him of shoplifting and sued him after a confrontation, authorities said.

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

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

The Xpress Mart convenience store in Columbia, SC, on Tuesday.  (Jeffrey Collins/AP)

The Xpress Mart convenience store in Columbia, SC, on Tuesday. (Jeffrey Collins/AP)

Carmack-Belton walked into the Parklane Road convenience store in Columbia around 8 p.m., Lott said. At some point, the teenager, Chow and the landlord’s son began to argue, said Lott, who did not detail what led to the dispute. Eventually, Carmack-Belton left the store and started running, Lott added.

The owner, armed with a gun, and his son chased the teenager to a nearby apartment complex, Lott said, adding that Carmack-Belton fell at one point but got back up.

Chow’s son said Carmack-Belton had a gun, which is when the owner shot him in the back as he ran away, Lott said. Authorities later recovered a gun next to the teen’s body, but the sheriff said there was no evidence the teen ever pointed the gun at Chow or his son.

The injury caused significant bleeding and damage to Carmack-Belton’s heart, Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said. He was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Cyrus' name spray painted on the facade of the store.  (Richland County Sheriff's Department)

Cyrus’s name spray-painted on the front of the store. (Richland County Sheriff’s Department)

“It’s insane,” Lott said. ” That does not make sense. You have a grieving family. We have a community mourning a 14 year old who was shot.

He said that even if Carmack-Belton took something from the store, it didn’t warrant a shooting.

“It doesn’t matter, even if he had stolen four bottles of water, which he first took out of the cooler and then he put them back, even if he had, it’s not – it’s not something you shoot someone for, let alone a 14-year-old,” Lott said.

The investigation determined that the shooting was “not a bias-motivated incident,” according to a report from the sheriff’s department. Asked how authorities reached that conclusion, department spokeswoman Veronica Hill said investigators had no evidence to suggest racial bias was a factor. Carmack-Belton was black. Chow is Asian.

Democratic state Rep. Todd Rutherford said in an Instagram post that what happened to the teenager “was no accident. It’s something the black community has been going through for generations: being racially profiled, then shot in the street like a dog. Words. I can’t describe the pain I feel after knowing this family for decades.”

“I ask our community to continue to hug this family as they join the club that no black family ever wants to be a part of. You are outraged. I am outraged,” he added.

Disassembled racks inside the store.  (Richland County Sheriff's Department)

Disassembled racks inside the store. (Richland County Sheriff’s Department)

A crowd gathered outside the store on Monday to protest, according to the report. At 9:43 p.m., several people broke into the store and removed items from the shelves, he added.

Footage of the aftermath shows the Carmack-Belton name spray-painted on the store, along with broken glass and trash. Signs reading “No child deserves to die over water” and “SHUT IT UP” were taped outside the store.

Inside, lockers were overturned.

Chow was in custody Tuesday at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the sheriff’s department said.

A lawyer for Chow did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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