A convenience store owner in South Carolina is under arrest after he allegedly chased down and fatally shot a 14-year-old boy in the back over a false allegation that the boy had stolen water bottles from the store.
The teen, Cyrus Carmack-Belton, walked into the Xpress Mart Shell Station in Columbia on Sunday night and was falsely accused of stealing water bottles by Rick Chow, the 58-year-old owner of the store, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
“He did not shoplift anything,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters at a news conference Monday. “We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever.”
Chow’s son, who has not been identified, began arguing with Carmack-Belton. Lott didn’t detail what the argument was about, but following the argument Carmack-Belton took off running.
Chow and his son gave chase, according to Lott. At one point during the chase, Carmack-Belton fell down and got back up. Chow’s son told his dad Carmack-Belton had a gun, leading Chow to shoot the boy in the back as he fled, authorities said.
Carmack-Belton was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The sheriff’s office said a gun was later recovered next to where Carmack-Belton had been fatally shot, but that there was no evidence the teen ever pointed the weapon at Chow or his son.
Lott told reporters that even if the teen had taken the water bottles, it was no reason to kill him.
“Regardless, even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out the cooler and then he put them back, even if he had done that, that’s not — that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old,” Lott said.
Chow remains in custody on a murder charge.
The latest senseless shooting can be added to a growing list of people who have been shot over simple misunderstandings by trigger-happy assailants.
Earlier this month, a Louisiana man was charged with shooting a 14-year-old girl in the back while she played hide-and-seek near the man’s property with friends.
And a couple in Florida said their car was shot at after they accidentally drove to the wrong address for an Instacart delivery. Police declined to charge the shooter because it happened on his own property.