Investigation into a shooting in Blackshear last summer reached a conclusion last week.
Blackshear resident Rocquel McNair, charged with aggravated assault in the June 23, 2018 shooting of Wilbur Hightower, was sentenced to 10 years probation in Superior Court, instructed to have no contact with Hightower, and released last Tuesday.
McNair had been in custody since his arrest a few hours after the shooting occurred, a period of just under 12 months.
McNair reportedly shot Hightower at close range numerous times on Ann Street, behind the convenience store at Ware and Hendry Streets. The shooting occurred at lunchtime that Saturday afternoon.
McNair was taken into custody later the same day in Patterson and charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Hightower, who has since recovered from his injuries, was transported to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville for treatment. Preliminary reports indicated Hightower was hit by multiple shots in major organs in the upper torso.
McNair pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault charge. The weapon possession charges, however, were dropped, reportedly because the gun was never recovered.
“It’s an odd case because he (Hightower) did get shot. We normally don’t give people like that probation ... normally you go to prison for this,” says District Attorney George Barnhill. “Wilbur Hightower was there and was agreeable to this, and recommended it.”
McNair initially claimed self defense and requested an immunity pre-trial hearing, but the hearing was rescheduled, and never held prior to the plea deal he accepted last week. Had McNair been able to prove self defense, the case against him would have been dismissed per state law.
McNair’s previous felony conviction was for criminal damage to property in Clinch County.
Hightower also has a criminal record. He was charged in February with possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of drugs with intent to distribute, possession of a knife/gun during commission of a crime and possession of drug related objects, following an afternoon traffic stop on Pomeroy Street.
BPD Officer Michael James stopped the vehicle Hightower, four other males and a 16-year-old juvenile were riding in when he observed the driver had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault.
A search of the vehicle revealed a Glock handgun, digital scales, suspected crack cocaine and marijuana. None of the men would claim ownership of the items so all were arrested.