Black 14-Year-Old Fatally Shot by Store Owner Who Falsely Accused Him of Stealing Bottled Water

South Carolina's Cyrus Carmack-Belton had just graduated eighth grade.

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A Columbia, South Carolina convenience store owner has been charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy, who the man falsely accused of shoplifting.

According to the Associated Press, Cyrus Carmack-Belton, who is Black, was inside the Xpress Mart Shell station Sunday night when 58-year-old Rick Chow suspected the teenager stole four bottles of water. Chow and his son chased after Carmack-Belton as he ran away from the store.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said during their pursuit of the wrongly accused teen, Chow's son claimed Carmack-Belton had a gun on him. Chow fired a single shot, striking the child in his right lower back.

When authorities arrived at the scene, a firearm was found near the victim's body.

As reported by CNN, Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said in a news conference Monday that the gunshot wound "seems to be consistent with someone who was running away from the assailants." Rutherford suggested the shooting was "very intentional" and the case would be considered a homicide.

According to Lott, Carmack-Belton—who had just graduated eighth grade—placed the water bottles in a cooler in the store prior to leaving.

"He did not shoplift anything. We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever,” the sheriff added, while also mentioning the bottles were "not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old."

Summit Parkway Middle School shared a tribute to Cyrus, writing, "He was intelligent, humorous with quick wit and well-liked by his classmates. We will miss you, Cyrus."

Cyrus Carmack-Belton, a SIDI Magnet student, has been taken from us far too soon.

A light in The Nest will be missed among the faculty and staff, as well as his peers. He was intelligent, humorous with quick wit and well-liked by his classmates.

We will miss you, Cyrus 🕊️

— SummitParkway Middle (@spmeagles) June 1, 2023
Twitter: @spmeagles

Local Fox affiliate WACH reported that an official GoFundMe page was set up for funeral costs.

"He was the youngest son of Nicole Carmack-Belton and Troy Belton," the fundraiser description reads. "He loved to smile, play video games, draw art for tattoos, and go on long walks. ... He was shot in the back after being racially profiled for shoplifting. His life was cut incredibly too short. We ask for your support as we get justice for Cyrus #Justice4Cyrus #BlackLivesMatter."

Although Rick Chow has a concealed weapons permit, his actions do not appear to fall within the state's self-defense law. As outlined by the AP, the shooter cannot instigate the incident and must be in imminent danger with no way avoid to harm.

Chow has been denied bond and will make his first court appearance on June 23.

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