Authorities said that a South Carolina convenience-store owner who fatally stabbed a 14-year old in the back, after falsely accusing them of shoplifting had been involved in two previous altercations where he confronted individuals he suspected of shoplifting before opening fire.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department revealed on Wednesday that it received numerous complaints about the Xpress Mart Shell Gas Station. Chow shot six times at a vehicle in 2015 after he stopped someone he thought was shoplifting. Three years later he shot a person in the leg.
She said that Chow’s behavior in both cases did not “meet the requirements of South Carolina law for criminal charges to be brought,” adding that authorities had made this determination because Chow was not the one who started either incident.
Owner fires after accusations of beer and peanuts being stolen
According to an incident report, Chow tried to stop the woman who stole two cases of beer as well as a package boiled peanuts in May 2015.
Chow confronted her in the parking area. The woman (who was not named in the report) told Chow that she bought the items, but he denied it.
The report said that the woman and Chow had “begun to wrestle over the items”, and she began to “yell for assistance” to a man sitting inside her car. Hill claimed that the woman had allegedly threatened Chow with a gun.
Chow, according to a report, grabbed both the woman’s purse and the peanuts in it. Chow suffered two scratches, and his glasses were broken in the scuffle.
Chow, armed with a handgun, fired six shots into the vehicle as the man and woman tried to leave, the report said. Hill confirmed that no one was hurt.
The report stated that deputies searched but were unable to locate the man and woman.
When a can of Easy-Off is stolen, chaos
Chow reported that three years later he saw a man remove a can Easy-Off cleaner off a shelf and hide it under his clothing before leaving the store. Chow, a 23-year-old man named Alexis Aguilera was followed out of the shop by Chow, who demanded that the item be returned. Aguilera instructed him to call police.
Chow claimed he didn’t know what happened, but he was hit in the face by the Easy-Off can. The report states that the Easy-Off can fell to the floor. Chow pulled out his gun and fired two shots as Aguilera fled, according to the report.
Aguilera returned as a deputy arrived at the scene, according to the reports. Aguilera was treated at the hospital for a gunshot injury before he was arrested in relation to the incident.
Aguilera, according to court records, pleaded guilty for shoplifting and was sentenced 30 days in jail or a fine of $300. Aguilera’s phone number was not publicly listed. Chow’s lawyer declined to comment on the earlier incidents.
The store received hundreds of calls in the years leading up to the fatal shooting of a teenager
The shootings are just two of many incidents that have occurred at the store. According to Hill, over the last five years the sheriff’s office has received hundreds calls from the store, including assaults, shoplifting, and larceny. Other incidents include motor vehicle thefts, vandalism and robbery.
Chow, who was 58 at the time, shot Cyrus dead on Sunday after accusing him of stealing water bottles. Richland County sheriff Leon Lott stated that the teenager “didn’t shoplift anything.”
He said, “We don’t have any evidence that he has stolen anything.”
Cyrus entered the convenience shop around 8 pm on Sunday. Lott stated that the teen removed four bottles of water and placed them back in a cooler. Hill, the spokesperson for the department, stated Wednesday that video shows the teen setting the bottles down or putting them away.
The teen and Chow, as well as Chow’s child, got into a heated argument at some point. Lott did not elaborate on the cause of the argument, but said Cyrus left the store after the disagreement.
Lott reported that Chow and his son, both armed with pistols, chased the teenager toward an apartment complex nearby. The teen had fallen at one point, but he got up again.
According to Lott, Chow’s child said Cyrus was carrying a gun when the owner shot him in the back while he ran away. The gun was found by the authorities next to the body. However, the sheriff claimed that there is no evidence that the teen pointed it at Chow or the son.
Cyrus was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was declared dead.
A report by the sheriff department stated that the investigation concluded the shooting “was not a biased incident.” Hill stated that investigators reached this conclusion as they had no evidence to suggest that racial prejudice was a factor. Cyrus is Black. Chow is Asian.
Some people have been angered by the shooting.
Lott stated, “It is absurd.” It doesn’t make any sense. You have a grieving family. “We have a community grieving for a 14-year old who was shot.”
He said even if Cyrus stole something from the shop, it wouldn’t justify a shooting.
Lott stated that even if the boy had stolen four bottles of water from a cooler, he would not have shot him over it, especially if they were 14 years old.
Todd Rutherford of the Democratic State Rep., who is the attorney for the family of the teen, stated in an post on Instagram , that the incident “wasn’t an accident.” The Black community has been experiencing this for decades: being racially characterized, and then being shot in the street.
He said, “Words cannot describe the pain that I feel after knowing this family for many decades.”
Rutherford was not available for comment.
On social media, some people have called for a store boycott. A crowd protested outside the store on Monday. According to the report, several people had broken into the store and taken items from the shelves.
Chow is currently being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center for a murder accusation. Son has not been charged. The sheriff’s office said that it had consulted the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office to get their opinion about whether or not the son should face charges. The solicitor’s department did not respond immediately to a comment request Thursday.