COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- A Columbia convenience store was vandalized Monday night after deputies say the owner shot and killed a 14-year-old boy he suspected of shoplifting.
According to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, a crowd of people was dispersed from the Shell gas station on Parklane Road after peaceful protests “turned destructive.”
Authorities said deputies responded to a break-in alarm at the store around 9:30 p.m. and found shattered windows and a large crowd of people stealing merchandise inside the store.
During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Sheriff Leon Lott called the incident a case of “plain, pure looting” and said the responsible individuals were not affiliated with groups who were peacefully protesting earlier in the day.
“This type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” Sheriff Leon Lott said, noting that the crowd was quickly dispersed. “Individuals involved will be identified and prosecuted.”
The sheriff said deputies will be allocated to guard the store for an undisclosed amount of time as a result of Monday night’s vandalism.
No arrests have been made so far.
The store owner, 58-year-old Rick Chow, was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the shooting death of Cyrus Carmack-Belton on Sunday night.
According to deputies, Chow suspected Carmack-Belton had shoplifted bottles of water from the store. However, deputies said during a news conference that there was no evidence anything was stolen.
Authorities said after a verbal altercation inside the store, Chow and his son chased the victim as he ran down Springtree Drive. The teen reportedly fell but got back up and ran.
Chow’s son told his dad Carmack-Belton was armed, and Chow shot Carmack-Belton in the back with a pistol as he was running away, according to authorities.
Richland County Coroner Nadia Rutherford said Carmack-Belton died at the hospital of a single gunshot wound to his right lower back.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the shooting or vandalism is asked to contact RCSD at 803-576-3000.
Watch the full press conference below: