Investigators detail prior shooting incidents at Shell gas station

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County investigators say in the past five years they have responded to hundreds of calls made from the Shell Gas station owned by Rick Chow, the man accused of fatally shooting a 14-year-old boy.

Investigators released the information Wednesday evening, receiving Freedom of Information Act Requests from several media outlets, including WIS.

Officials said at least 200 calls were made from the gas station since 2020. The calls ranged from shoplifting, assaults, larceny, vandalism, car thefts and robbery.

On Wednesday, Richland County deputies released information on two prior incidents involving shots fired. One from 2015 and another from 2018.

In both incidents, Chow is listed as the person who called the police.

According to an incident report from 2015, Chow stated a woman walked into his store took cases of beer and another item, and then left the store without paying.

Chow then followed behind her and confronted her in the parking lot. That was then followed by a struggle over the groceries before the woman threatened to shoot Chow.

After the fight, the woman got into a car with an unidentified male. The two drove off and then returned to the gas station before Chow fired six shots at the car.

In an incident from 2018, Chow claimed he watched a man come into the store take a $6 can of Easy-Off off the shelf and tuck it in his clothing. Chow then followed the man out of the store demanding for the item back.

Ultimately Chow was hit in the face by the man, before pulling his gun and firing two shots at him. One bullet struck him in the leg.

Those prior incidents involved shoplifting but people who frequent the store say Chow seemed hyper-focused on trying to catch people stealing.

“You feel it when you walk in, because when you look over they’re all watching you like hawks. It’s like can I please just decide what chips I want? I mean it makes you nervous when you walk in there because their eyes are all on you,” said Jayda, a resident that lives near the store.

Jayda said after shopping at the store a couple of times, she stopped going there.

“I see everybody walk there. I see kids walk there because it’s convenient. I’m sure if they had a car... I have a car. so, I just choose to go somewhere else,” she said.

Another woman said whenever she shopped at the store she didn’t have any issues with Chow but had frequent run-ins with Chow’s wife.

“I just don’t understand why you’re being watched every time you go in the store,” said Patricia Ann Gibbs-Cooper who frequents the gas station, “Even if I have like $20 or $30 in my hand, she’s looking like ‘Are you going to really buy that?’ and I’m like ‘What?’ So yeah, I’ve had really bad encounters with her.”

Surveillance footage from an incident in 2013, that WIS reported on, shows two men stealing cases of beer from the gas station.

WIS reported then that the suspects ran out of the gas station while Chow chased behind them. The men then got into a vehicle waiting in the parking lot and Chow fired three shots at the car as it drove away.

One of the men in the 2013 case was arrested and charged with shoplifting, but Chow never faced charges from any of those prior incidents.

Wis asked deputies why Chow was never charged. Deputies said in all of those prior incidents he was either acting out of self-defense or the others involved never stuck around for deputies to take their statements.

On Monday, during a news conference, WIS asked RCSD Sheriff Leon Lott about the future of that gas station and he said they’ve done their job by charging Chow.

Lott said it would not be up to them to decide whether the gas station will remain open.

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