Columbia convenience store vandalized after fatal shooting of 14-year-old boy

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Columbia convenience store owned by a man charged with murder in the shooting of a 14-year-old boy was vandalized.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) reported a crowd of people have been dispersed from the Shell gas station at 7441 Parklane Road after protests turned destructive.

Deputies were alerted to a break-in alarm at the store around 9:30 p.m. Monday, where they said to have found shattered windows and a large crowd of people inside the store stealing merchandise upon arrival. The incident report states the initial gathering at the store was a peaceful protest.

“This type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” said Sheriff Lott. “Individuals involved will be identified and prosecuted.”

The deputy who wrote the incident report wrote he found several security camera cords cut, but the majority were active.

The deputy estimated $2,000 of the property was stolen and $4,000 worth of damage was done to the property.

The name Cyrus and his age, 14, were repeatedly spray painted on the walls of the property.

Lott called a news conference on Tuesday, stating a deputy will be stationed at the building.

He repeatedly expressed his frustration with looters.

“What does stealing a case of beer have to do with a 14-year-old being shot and the person responsible charged with murder? Somebody explain that.”

Lott declined to state how many people RCSD suspects of being involved and also declined to name any suspects.

“I want them to watch this and worry about when I’m going to come knocking on their door,” he said.

Lott stressed peaceful protesting is acceptable, but the looting crossed the line.

Deputies said they were alerted to a break-in alarm at the store around 9:30 p.m. Monday.
Deputies said they were alerted to a break-in alarm at the store around 9:30 p.m. Monday.(Richland County Sheriff's Department)

The investigation into this incident is ongoing, deputies stated.

State Senator John L. Scott Jr. (D-Richland County) represents the community at the statehouse and echoed Lott’s sentiment.

“Regardless of what happens in the community, you cannot take the law into your own hands. I went by this morning, and I saw the station, water bottles all over, graffiti, you don’t have the right as a citizen to violate another citizen’s property,” he said.

State Rep. Leon Howard (D-Richland County) also represents the area. He spoke out against the vandalism as well.

“That’s something I don’t think the community supports. Whoever did that does not speak for the majority,” he said.

The owner, 58-year-old Rick Chow, was arrested and charged Monday with murder in the shooting death of Cyrus Carmack-Belton.

Deputies said the shooting happened Sunday around 8 p.m., down the road in the 200 block of Springtree Drive.

The owner suspected Carmack-Belton of shoplifting inside the store, which RCSD said did not happen in a press conference Monday.

According to Richland County coroner, Naida Rutherford, Carmack-Belton had one gunshot wound to the right lower back.

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