WeatherTech shooting victim was engaged, trying to change his life, family says

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ByTre Ward via WLS logo
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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CJ Hightower had just started working at WeatherTech in Bolingbrook in January and was planning to get married, his family said.

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- A family is grieving the unthinkable after a man was shot and killed at the end of his work shift at the WeatherTech warehouse in Bolingbrook.

Family members say CJ Hightower had just started working at WeatherTech back in January with hopes to start a new life before police say he was gunned down by a temporary worker at the facility.

SEE ALSO | Chicago man charged in Bolingbrook shooting at WeatherTech warehouse, police say

ABC 7 spoke exclusively with his mother and fiancée, who went from planning a wedding to now planning a funeral.

"Still just hard to come to terms with him being gone," said Kierra Scott, his fiancée. "I just want to tell him I miss him. And, I've always missed him. And, I've always loved him."

Tragedy struck as the couple was only months away from their big day.

"We had big plans for the future," Scott said. "We were thinking New Year's."

It was at the end of Hightower's overnight shift at WeatherTech in Bolingbrook that their lives together would be torn apart forever.

"I dropped him off at work Friday night," Scott said. "I didn't think I wasn't going to be able to see him again."

That's when police were called to the facility Saturday morning to find three men shot.

The 37-year-old was killed months after starting at the warehouse in January. He had moved in with his mother, Brenda Allen, to begin a new path in life.

"I was just so happy that he was happy about just working an ordinary job for 10 hours a day!" Allen said. "I just stood up in church and told my church that I've been praying for my son for 15 years to change his life and he finally called me saying he wanted to change his life!"

But, police say, that journey was halted by Charles McKnight, Jr. after he allegedly stole a watch and wallet from two employees, including Hightower, who confronted him.

"The guy flashed a gun at CJ," Allen said. "CJ walked away, and he went and told security that the guy who stole the wallets and watch had a gun. And, from there, we're told, he just opened fire!"

Hightower was one of three men shot, but the only one who died. His mother's pain was overcome by the thought that what ended her son's life could've been much worst.

"And, I know if he wouldn't have tried to knock that gun out of that man's hand, I don't know how many more mothers would be standing in my place," Allen said.

After a three-hour search, McKnight was arrested and charged in the shooting. He had been working with a temporary employment agency and had only been assigned to the WeatherTech facility since June 9.

"Guess what? Now you're going to suffer the consequences of the path you chose to take," Allen said.

But Hightower's family's hope for the future is still lost without CJ.

"I never thought my family would be in this position, but we want justice!" his cousin Karyn McGary said.

A gun was recovered by officers. Police said they do not believe the shooting was premeditated.