A Rock Hill barber is facing charges after he reportedly showed a gun to a would-be customer after telling the man that he “does not cut black hair.”
According to a York County Sheriff’s Office report, a 37-year-old man went to a barber shop along the 2100 block of Celanese Road around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The man reportedly asked Larry Thomas, 65, for a haircut and Thomas told him he “does not cut black hair.” According to the report, the man asked Thomas what that meant and Thomas “grabbed a pistol in his right hand, holding it to his side.”
The man told deputies that Thomas never pointed the gun at him, but he left the store when the gun came out. That’s when he called police.
According to the report, Thomas denied the allegations, saying that he remembered the man coming to his shop, but never said anything about not cutting black hair and did not pull out a gun.
Thomas told the deputy that he keeps his handguns locked up in a shed behind the shop. When Thomas showed the deputies his handguns, the deputies noticed a gun that was similar to the one the man had described – a chrome-colored revolver that looked like a snub-nose .38 caliber. The gun was taken into evidence.
Thomas was arrested and charged with pointing and presenting firearms at a person. He was booked in the Moss Justice Center and held on a $3,000 bond.
WBTV’s Coleen Harry spoke to Thomas Wednesday afternoon in his Rock Hill barber shop, where he recounted what happened.
“And I told him I did not do black hair and he kept coming towards me and I stepped back here and I always keep a gun right here and I just picked up my gun and put my gun at my side,” Thomas said.
He said he’s not a racist, and wasn’t trained and isn’t experienced with cutting African-American hair.
“That’s when he got into my face and said, ‘You meant African-American now, didn’t you?’,” Thomas told WBTV.
He says he wasn’t aware that telling a potential customer that was “a bad thing.”
“I don’t do flat tops. White people wear flat tops. I no longer cut women’s hair because I’m not good enough to cut women’s hair anymore. The only thing I do is I stick with my middle-age group of men,” he said. “I’m just not good enough to do black hair cutting at all. Being an autistic individual, I pretty much stick to my routine.”
Thomas told WBTV he has autism and doesn’t like to be confronted by people.
He claims the man kept walking toward him and practically came into the back room of the shop, and he felt threatened.
That’s when he says he picked up his weapon and kept it at his side by his leg.
Following Tuesday’s report, WBTV obtained eight other reports documenting calls to the sheriff’s office from the barber shop. The reports date back to 2007.
In most of the reports, service was denied to a would-be customer – including an Asian-American, a Latino, white men, a child and a disabled vet.
In an April 2007 report, Thomas is accused of showing a man a stun gun after refusing him service.
In July of the same year, a man says he and his friends went into the shop and he was denied service. When he was leaving, he told deputies that Thomas “lifted up his shirt and revealed a lack in color handgun that appeared to be a 9mm.”
Thomas is accused of pulling out a rifle, in another July 2007 report, after the father of a young child – who was refused service – came into the shop to find out why. The man’s wife says Thomas told them to leave and “flipped” them off, Thomas says the wife cursed at him and the husband approached him in a threatening matter.
In two other incidents, April 2009 and January 2013, Thomas is accused of pulling a gun on a potential customer.
A September 2007 report from the sheriff’s office states that Thomas got into an argument with a customer about the way he wanted his hair cut. Thomas reportedly told the man he would not cut his hair the way he wanted it, so the man left.
According to the report, the two argued as the man was leaving and Thomas followed him outside with a can of pepper spray. The customer told deputies Thomas approached him while he was in his vehicle and pointed the pepper spray at him.
The man says he felt threatened and hit Thomas as Thomas sprayed him. Thomas sprayed him a second time, according to the report, before the man was able to get away and call for help.
Thomas told deputies that the man assaulted him.
Wednesday afternoon, Thomas told WBTV that he’s had white people get upset with him.
WBTV is the Observer’s news partner