More charges possible after Columbia convenience store owner arrested for 14-year-old’s murder, RCSD & Solicitor’s Office say

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 10:51 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) and the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office are commenting publicly for the first time about the possibility of additional charges in the shooting death of 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton.

RCSD said Rick Chow, who owns the Shell gas station on Parklane Road, fatally shot Carmack-Belton in the back Sunday night after falsely accusing him of shoplifting bottles of water.

Chow has been charged with murder. He remains behind bars and is awaiting bond.

RCSD released a statement Thursday morning, which reads: “The Sheriff’s Department continues to receive inquiries as to whether additional charges will be forthcoming.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has consulted with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor to request their opinion as to whether probable cause exists to bring any charges against the son and/or to file additional charges against Chow.

The department directed all further questions to the Solicitor’s Office, which said no decision will be made until after it has reviewed all of RCSD’s investigative materials.

In a Monday news conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that Chow’s son was present when the murder took place.

“There was a verbal confrontation inside the convenience store, the victim went outside, he took off running,” he said. “The son of the owner of the convenience store gave chase.”

At one point, Chow’s son told his father that Carmack-Belton was armed.

Shortly after that, Chow shot Carmack-Belton, according to Lott.

Deputies recovered a gun “several feet” away from where Carmack-Belton’s body was found, according to an incident report.

RCSD said Tuesday that the origin of that gun is still being investigated.

WIS asked the department for more specifics about what charges the agency is considering, but a spokesperson declined to elaborate.

In a statement, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson said, “The Richland County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation into the fatal shooting of Monroe Cyrus Carmack-Belton and as a result charged Chikei Rick Chow with Murder.

At this time, the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office has not yet received all of the reports, statements, videos, and other materials related to the investigation. Once all of that information has been provided, a full review will be conducted in order to determine whether any additional charges should be made relating to this incident.”

The question about additional charges is one that is on the minds of many in the community near where Carmack-Belton was gunned down.

“There’s no period there, that’s the open-ended question,” Valencia Strother, who lives nearby Carmack-Belton’s family and stopped by a makeshift memorial for the victim along Springtree Drive, said. “Why the son hasn’t been brought up on charges or what is the reason or explanation to why the son doesn’t have some involvement in what happened to Cyrus that night?”

For context on how some of these decisions are made, WIS asked RCSD whose decision it was to charge Chow with murder in this case.

A spokesperson for the department said that that decision was made by RCSD after consulting with the Solicitor’s Office.

Chow’s attorney James R. Snell Jr. did not respond to a request for comment on the matter Thursday.

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