“He’s more than a hashtag:” Cyrus Carmack-Belton’s principal says his legacy of light will live on

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Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 9:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Tributes continue to pour in for Cyrus Carmack-Belton, the 14-year-old who was gunned down this week after being falsely accused of shoplifting bottles of water.

Richland County deputies say, Rick Chow, who owns the Shell gas station on Parklane Road, fatally shot Carmack-Belton in the back Sunday night after chasing him from his store.

Carmack-Belton was an eighth grader at Summit Parkway Middle School, who had just graduated.

April Shell, Carmack-Belton’s principal, said that the legacy of light he embodied will live on.

“He’s our heart, he’s our heart and soul here,” she said.

His impact is tangible, as a memorial for Carmack-Belton near where he was shot has grown in the past several days.

People have stopped by to drop off flowers, pictures, and water bottles as a symbol of their support.

The community gathered for a prayer vigil in remembrance of him on Friday night.

Shell said Carmack-Belton had an infectious smile, a witty sense of humor, and a generous heart.

He was likable, loveable, and intelligent, she said.

The 14-year-old wanted to be famous, and now the whole world will know his name, Shell said.

“He’s more than a hashtag, he’s more than a statistic, he is our Eagle, and he will truly be missed,” she said.

Shell said Carmack-Belton dreamed of one day opening his own tattoo shop.

She joked with him that she would be his first customer, and told him he would one day “make it big.”

“I truly don’t think he knew the impact that he had on people, but it truly can describe how you can live your life and be a light to others and have an impact on others and you don’t know it until something like this unfortunately does happen,” Shell said. “But he planted seeds that he never knew he planted.”

His school family came together to give a poster to his family, filled with tributes from classmates and teachers.

“You were the friend I never knew I needed,” wrote one classmate.

“Always there when I was down,” wrote another.

One teacher wrote, “May your name be used to inspire others.”

Summit Parkway Middle also gifted his family with a bronze Eagle.

“What we have here at Summit Parkway is the Eagles soar,” Shell said. “We say our motto ‘glide through sixth, fly through seventh, soar through eighth,’ but in my mind, he’s soaring higher than the Eagles right now, and that’s why he is a light among others and he will shed light on a lot of things that could prevent things like this happening.”

Summit Parkway Middle will be unveiling a memorial stone on its front lawn this summer to ensure Carmack-Belton’s memory endures, Shell said.

Carmack-Belton’s funeral is on Saturday at Second Nazareth Baptist Church on Elmwood Avenue at 12 P.M.

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