A South Carolina gas station owner who was charged with murder over the shooting of a 14-year-old wrongly accused of shoplifting has allegedly previously fired at shoplifters, officials said.

Rick Chow, 58, is accused of chasing teenager Cyrus Carmack-Belton from his Xpress Mart Shell store in Columbia before shooting the teen in the back at around 8pm on Sunday, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department said in a press conference on Monday, according to WIS10.

Mr Chow had suspected the teenager of shoplifting, and after a verbal altercation Carmack-Belton fled the store, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters.

“Even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which he had taken out of the cooler and then put back — even if he had done that, that’s not something you should shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old,” Sheriff Lott said.

Officials said police had been called to the Xpress Mart on numeerous occasions following reports of shoplifting and, on two occasions, shootings in which Mr Chow had been accused of firing at shoplifters as they fled the store.

Redacted incident reports show that on one occasion, on 4 May 2015, a shopkeeper believed to be Mr Chow struggled with a woman outside of the Xpress Mart after she stole a case of Bud Light. As the woman attempted to drive off, the shopkeeper fired at her vehicle.

On another occasion, on 12 October 2018, the shopkeeper confornted another shoplifter who took over cleaner without paying. During the confrontation, the shoplifter assaulted the shopkeeper, who fired at him twice – hitting him once in the leg.

Although the name of the shopkeeper was redacted in the reports, CBS confirmed that the reports named the shopkeeper as the shooter in both cases – while Richland County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Mr Chow was involved in the incidents.

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