BOLINGBROOK — A temporary WeatherTech employee was charged with murder Saturday after he allegedly shot three co-workers, killing one, following a confrontation in which he was accused of robbing two co-workers at gunpoint, Bolingbrook police said.
Charles McKnight, 27, shot and killed Central Hightower, 37, of Plainfield, and shot two male co-workers, ages 25 and 43, according to a statement from Bolingbrook Police Chief Mike Rompa.
According to police, a group of employees confronted McKnight near the end of an overnight shift and accused him of stealing a watch and a wallet from two co-workers at gunpoint. When employees confronted McKnight about the alleged robbery, he shot the three men and fled on foot, police said.
It was unclear whether all three people shot, including the man who died, had confronted McKnight. But police said the 25-year-old who is in critical condition was one of the employees who allegedly had been robbed. The 43-year-old man had been treated and released from the hospital, according to Rompa’s press release.
McKnight, who was found about 9:30 a.m. hiding in a nearby backyard, has been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, according to the release. Other charges could be forthcoming, the release said.
McKnight, of Chicago, was a temporary employment agency worker and was only assigned to the WeatherTech facility since June 9, Rompa said. The shooting does not appear to be premeditated, he said.
A call and emails to WeatherTech officials seeking comment from the company were not acknowledged on Saturday.
Earlier Saturday, the Bolingbrook Police Department said in a post on the department’s website that police were sent to 1 WeatherTech Way for a shooting and that the suspect had fled, police said in the release.
Bolingbrook police Capt. Anthony Columbus said later said the shooter had been caught before 9:30 a.m. Police used K-9 police units and drone technology to help find McKnight, according to the release.
Columbus said the buildings at the WeatherTech complex are distribution and production facilities.
Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson said troopers responded to this incident “in an assist role.” He directed further questions to Bolingbrook police.
Deputies from the Will County Sheriff’s Office patrol division assisted Bolingbrook police with securing and searching the area for the suspect, Will County Deputy Chief Dan Jungles said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, released a statement that said the community has been “shattered by yet another act of senseless gun violence.”
“Words cannot express the heartbreak the victims and their families are feeling right now. My thoughts are with them during these difficult times,” Foster’s statement said.
Foster’s statement said no one should have to worry about “random gun violence while going about their normal lives and we cannot accept this as a new reality.”
State Sen. Eric Mattson, D-Joliet, also released a statement that said his heart goes out to the victims and their families.
“We need real gun reform, and we need it now,” Mattson said in the statement. “Without taking action, we continue to put people and first responders at risk of devastation and tragedy.”