Viewing service held for 14-year-old killed by store owner, ahead of funeral
June 3, 2023
(SOUTH CAROLINA) -- The viewing service for Cyrus Carmack-Belton, who was allegedly shot and killed by a South Carolina gas station owner, is being held Friday, according to Leevy's Funeral Home. His funeral is planned for Saturday.
Rick Chow, 58, was arrested and charged with murder in connection to 14-year-old Cyrus's death, the Richland County Sheriff's Department said. Chow wrongly believed Cyrus had shoplifted several bottles of water, police said.
"He did not shoplift anything," Sheriff Leon Lott said during a press conference Monday. "We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever."
Summit Parkway Middle School, where Cyrus was a student, released a statement on Facebook, Thursday remembering what it said was its "young Eagle."
"He was intelligent, humorous with quick wit and well-liked by his classmates," the post said. "We could always depend on Cyrus to ask questions beyond the scope of the topic as he often would seek to understand, rather than accept and move on."
The school noted that he had dreams of owning a tattoo shop.
During a press conference Monday by the Richland County Sheriff's Department, Lott said there was a verbal confrontation inside the store before Cyrus left and took off running.
Lott said the convenience store owner, who police said was armed with a pistol, and his son chased after the teen.
The sheriff told reporters that Cyrus fell during the chase, got up, and "at some point" during the chase, the store owner's son said that the teen had a gun.
"The father shot the young man in the back," Lott said. According to law enforcement, a gun was found close to the teen's body.
Veronica Hill, a public information officer for the Richland County Sheriff's Department, told ABC News in a statement Friday that "Cyrus was in possession of the gun, but in South Carolina a juvenile cannot legally own a handgun." She added that the office is investigating the gun's origin.
Naida Rutherford, the Richland County coroner, said during the press conference that Cyrus died from "a single gunshot wound to his right lower back" that caused "significant damage to his heart and hemorrhaging."
According to a sheriff's office incident report obtained by ABC News, the shooting is not believed to be "a bias motivated incident."
ABC News reached out to Chow's attorney, James Snell, Jr., in the wake of the murder charge, but his office declined to comment.
On Thursday, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron E. Gipson said in a statement his office will determine whether any additional charges will be made in the incident once it has conducted a full review.
This week's shooting was not the only alleged incident involving Chow.
Hill told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that Chow has had two prior confrontations with alleged shoplifters that resulted in him firing a weapon -- in 2015 and 2018 -- but his conduct in those incidents "did not meet the requirements under South Carolina law to support criminal charges."
Todd Rutherford, who represents Cyrus's family, told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that "what happened to [Cyrus] wasn't an accident. It's something that the Black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled, then shot down in the street like a dog."
"One beacon of hope is seeing the resilience of the Black community as they wrap their arms around this family that has joined the club that no Black family ever wants to be a part of," he continued.
ABC News' Meredith Deliso and Teddy Grant contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.