‘He had a huge heart’: family mourns death of convenience store clerk killed in armed robbery in Arlington

Officials ask anyone with information to contact Det. Jennifer Rodriguez at 817-459-5650.

Updated Monday 5:51 PM with additional police information.

Police are looking for a suspect and offer a reward of $ 5,000 after a convenience store clerk was found fatally shot Sunday morning in Arlington.

Jordan Hightower, 30, was found shot dead behind a store counter, police said. Police responded shortly before 5 a.m. to the incident at the EZ Mart store in Block 100 of East Bardin Road after a customer entered the store and found the clerk unconscious.

The clerk was pronounced dead at the scene from apparent gunshot wounds, police said. Family members later identified the clerk as Jordan Hightower. Hightower was from D-FW and a graduate of Mansfield High School, his family said.

Kristin Reynolds, Hightower’s wife for a year, went to the gas station to pick him up and then learned that her husband was dead. On top of that, today is her birthday.

Reynolds told WFAA that Hightower took on the clerk job with big plans in mind.

“It had been difficult for them to keep a staff member overnight just because of the nature of the work, the hours and just the kinds of things that came with it,” she said. “He said, ‘No. I’m going to be the person who’s going to work this shift and I’m going to walk in and take over this store and it’s going to be a place that everyone can come to.'”

Reynolds described Hightower as a man who could make anyone smile – someone who could talk to anyone.

“He had a huge heart. Even though he had nothing to give,” Reynolds said.

She showed the WFAA Hightower cross necklace. Reynolds said Hightower wears it every day to remind him of his faith in his salvation. She now swears to wear her cross and her wedding ring every day.

“I’m never going to take it off. It holds us together. Without God, we can’t do it.”

The family set up a GoFundMe to pay for Hightower’s funeral expenses. Click here if you want to donate.

Police had not received any calls or alarms in the store before the suspected gunman entered, officials said, but now believe Hightower was killed in an armed robbery based on footage from surveillance recovered by the authorities.

“It was completely one of the most brazen armed robberies I have ever seen,” said Christopher Cook, lieutenant with the Arlington Police Department. “Usually a thief will give requests. This suspect didn’t give any warning and just started shooting the clerk.”

The footage showed a man, pictured below, whom police describe as a thin, long-haired man. He was wearing a face cover, a red cap, a red jacket and a dark-colored shirt when he entered the store around 3:30 a.m.

Police said he was in the store for 15 minutes, let customers out, then shot Hightower several times and stole some store items including tobacco, crisps and bottled drinks. He didn’t steal any money, police said.

“We think he fired at least eight rounds,” Cook said. “[The video] is horrible to watch. He didn’t even give the clerk the opportunity to comply with any request. “

After the shooting, a few customers entered and asked the suspect what had happened, police said. Audio captured in surveillance video shows the suspect telling them he shot the clerk. These customers have not called 911 and will not be billed, according to Arlington Police.

By the time the next person entered, Hightower was dead.

Investigators believe he then fled the store heading east on Bardin Road.

Cook said about an hour and a half later another customer came over to buy something and saw Hightower dead behind the counter. That’s who called 911.

The store is offering a reward of $ 5,000 for any information leading to a conviction in the case.

“We at EZ Mart are very saddened that one of our teammates was shot dead in an armed robbery and succumbed to his injuries,” an EZ Mart statement said on Sunday. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. We will make the necessary resources available to our entire team at the store level to help them deal with this senseless tragedy. We will work with the police to make a reward available. of $ 5,000 for the arrest and conviction of the gunman. Out of respect for his family and to ensure the integrity of the investigation, we will report any further statements to the police. “

Officials ask anyone with information to contact Det. Jennifer Rodriguez at 817-459-5650.

Informants who wish to remain anonymous can call Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-8477.

“He is a very dangerous person, we will certainly do everything we can to try to find, identify and bring this person to justice,” Cook said.

WFAA digital producer Jake Harris and WFAA reporter Alex Rozier contributed to this report.