Columbia gas station owner charged in teen’s murder makes first appearance before a judge

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 4:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia convenience store owner charged with murdering a 14-year-old boy will remain behind bars after a first appearance before a magistrate judge.

According to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Rick Chow, who owns the Shell gas station on Parklane Road, chased Cyrus Carmack-Belton from his store, and shot him in the back.

The incident happened around 8 p.m. on Sunday after Chow suspected Carmack-Belton of shoplifting.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a press conference on Monday that there is “no evidence” Carmack-Belton stole anything.

“You don’t shoot somebody in the back who’s not a threat to you,” Lott said. “That’s the same standard that we do, the same standard that cops have to live by. You have to be defending someone’s life or your life, and there has to be an immediate danger to you at that point.”

While running away, Carmack-Belton fell and was then shot just down the road on Springtree Drive

Chow’s bond on the murder charge could not be set by Magistrate Judge John McLeod on Tuesday and will be set by a circuit court judge at a later date.

Representatives for the victim, as well as Chow’s attorney, declined to speak at the hearing.

Chow, 58, spoke little at the hearing, beyond saying “Yes, your honor,” and acknowledging that he understood McLeod’s questions.

The store owner is being represented by attorney James R. Snell Jr.

Snell declined to comment to WIS as he was leaving Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

The victim’s family is being represented by Rep. Todd Rutherford.

A memorial has been set up in Carmack-Belton’s honor along Springtree Drive.

One sign reads “Justice for King Cyrus.”

Jordan Singelton, who lives nearby, stopped by to pay her respects Tuesday. She said the news of the shooting did not shock her.

“As a Black woman and as Black man himself, we’re looked at as a certain type of way, and honestly I wish things would change, honestly, but it’s not going to change unless the world comes together,” she said. “Right now, we’re at a very, a very, a very sad place in the world. I’m just hoping for the best for everybody.”

WIS spoke briefly with members of Carmack-Belton’s family, including his older brother and his father, on Tuesday outside the detention center.

They are grieving and did not wish to provide any statement.

RCSD has reviewed surveillance footage as part of its investigation into the killing.

WIS has requested that video but has not heard back.

RCSD said there are currently no plans to charge anyone else in the murder.

The origin of the gun believed to belong to Carmack-Belton, which deputies recovered near his body, is being investigated.

DNA evidence is still being processed, RCSD said.

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