Was it racism or self-defense? Charges dropped on SC barber

- Prosecutors are dropping charges on a Rock Hill barber that said he couldn't cut black hair and pulled a gun on a potential customer.

Jennifer Colton with the York County Sheriff’s Office told FOX 46 Charlotte that there was no evidence that Larry Thomas directly pointed a gun at Arthur Hill or threatened to use it. Because it is legal for South Carolina business owners to possess fire-arms, Thomas legally did not do anything wrong.

“He came across the floor at me and was angry because I used the word black," Thomas said. 

Thomas recalls the altercation when Hill walked into his shop in May 2016 and he said he “won’t cut black hair.” He said he pulled his gun in self-dense.

“I picked up my gun which was laying in plain view,” Thomas explained. “I picked it up and put it by my side to stop him from doing whatever he planned on doing.” 

Hill calls it racism. Thomas said it was a misunderstanding and he doesn’t have the skill to cut black hair.

Hill declined to comment on the dropped charges on Wednesday but told FOX 46 Charlotte that he was startled when Thomas pulled the gun in May.

“He had a 32 revolver in his right hand,” Hill said. 

In four months, Thomas said he has lost 40 percent of his business. He wishes he could go back to that moment and change his phrasing.

“What I’m saying now is that I can’t cut black hair instead of I don’t cut black hair…it’s an art form I don’t possess,” Thomas said. 

Thomas told FOX 46 Charlotte he went to barber school in 1964 when shops were segregated and he wasn’t taught how to cut black hair. He said at this stage in his career it’s too late for him to learn the skill.

Still, he is sorry if anyone was offended.  

“I’m just sorry it caused a mess. I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding," Thomas said. 

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