Enraged protestors trashed a gas station in South Carolina after its owner allegedly shot and killed a 14-year-old boy whom he believed had been shoplifting.
Sometime on Sunday night, 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton walked into a Shell gas station in Columbia, South Carolina. The service station had been targeted by vandals and shoplifters several times in recent years, and police later confirmed that owner Rick Chow, 58, has called them a "very large" number of times to report incidents there.
That night, Chow reportedly suspected Cyrus of stealing bottles of water and began arguing with him. The teen eventually fled the store and headed toward an apartment complex on foot. Chow and his son, whose name has not been released, followed closely behind Cyrus and soon discovered that the teen was carrying a firearm.
After Chow spotted the handgun, he allegedly drew the pistol he had brought with him on the chase and fired a single shot, which struck Cyrus in the back. The wound bled profusely, while the bullet itself caused significant damage to Cyrus' heart, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation into the case remains ongoing, and police still have not determined how Cyrus acquired the weapon. However, they did claim that Cyrus did not brandish the weapon at either Chow or his son while inside the store and that surveillance footage demonstrated that Cyrus had not been shoplifting.
Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford, who was recently featured in a county YouTube video celebrating Black History Month, stated in an Instagram video on Monday that Cyrus could have been "any of our sons."
"I am not a robot," she continued. "I may deal with death every day, but most people would have a reaction to a child dying."
Rutherford is not the only official to react strongly to Cyrus' death. U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat who has represented South Carolina's sixth district for 20 years, issued a statement calling for "swift" justice for "the senseless murder" of young Cyrus. "This tragedy should have never happened," Clyburn's statement continued. "The criminalization of Black men and boys and the historic trend of painting them as aggressors have time and again led to deadly and heartbreaking circumstances. Cyrus Carmack-Belton has since been declared innocent, but his supposed crime of shoplifting a bottle of water should not have cost him his life."
Outraged members of the community apparently agreed and exacted their own form of justice against Chow and his gas station. They looted the store, graffitied the building, and trashed the parking lot.
Others remembered Cyrus by placing candles, flowers, and balloons between Chow's gas station and the place where Cyrus died. During a candlelight vigil on Monday night, some attendees spray-painted Cyrus' name on the walls of the Shell station, while others spelled his name out on the concrete using dozens of water bottles.
Chow was subsequently charged with murder, and he turned himself in to police on Monday afternoon. He appeared in court on Tuesday and will remain in custody until bond is set.
Bond hearing for man charged with shooting, killing 14-year-oldwww.youtube.com
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