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Gas station vandalized after deputies say owner shot and killed 14-year-old boy

58-year-old Rick Chow is charged with murder after deputies say he chased 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton out of his store, before fatally shooting him in the back.

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, 14-year-old Cyrus Carmack-Belton was killed by the owner of a Shell station on Parklane Road, Rick Chow, who is now charged with murder. 

Sheriff Leon Lott held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, saying anyone involved in vandalizing the gas station will be arrested and charged accordingly.

On Tuesday, Chow stood in front of a magistrate judge during a first court appearance.

No recorded audio was allowed in the courtroom during the hearing at the Richland County jail, which lasted less than 10 minutes. Chow and his attorney had no comment. Carmack-Belton's family was in the courtroom along with a victim advocate and representative from the family’s attorney’s office.

The family also chose not to comment, but members of the community who live near the gas station are speaking up.

"I’m just heartbroken with the situation," Columbia resident Laroy Hall says. "I really and truly am. This is devastating."

Hall lives near the gas station where Carmack-Belton was shot.

Overnight law enforcement said the station was vandalized by protestors.

"It’s really torn apart right now. Windows are bust out, they've got open bottles, water bottles all over the place and the signs that’s on the windows, they are impactful, man," Hall explains about the graffiti. "They’re really making a bold statement with it."

A statement of anger and hurt over the young teenager being gunned down — shot in the back. Law enforcement says the owner believed Carmack-Belton had stolen water bottles, which was not true.

"You hear stuff like that across the nation but not here. It rarely happens here and it happened so close, it’s even more frustrating," Andrew McClain explains. "A lot of us are tired of hearing about stuff like this. And when it happens so close it makes you just be more aware."

McClain lives near the station, and tells me he’s frustrated with another instance of gun violence affecting a young Black man.

"I love to see the support from Cyrus and I understand that people are angry but it could be a lot worse than that," McClain shares about the vandalism that occurred on Monday night. 

Other residents like Mr. Jackson, who did not give his first name, says he thinks there’s a more effective way of dealing with the tragedy.

"There are other ways to get things done...I understand people are upset, we get emotional about things sometimes. But I just think there’s a better way, more productive way to handle this," Jackson believes. "It’s kind of like once you do stuff like this, it affects other people too you know? It affects everybody else too so I think the more productive way is let the courts handle it."

Chow will appear in front of a general session circuit court judge, who can determine bond at a later date. News 19 will continue to provide updates as they develop.

"I feel bad for both parties involved because like I said I do have a relationship with the owner but I'm also feeling for my people — my Black and brown people — that are constantly going through these different types of situations so you know it’s just heartbreaking for everyone around the board and I'm definitely praying for everybody," Hall says.

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