Justin Haney was all of 2 weeks old when Rose Marie Haney adopted him 18 years ago.
She was in her 50s and would raise him as a single mother, but she had her biological daughter and others to help her and didn’t want him to be orphaned.
“When I looked at him, I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to let you go,’ ” she said Sunday, recalling the moment.
She no longer has that choice. Justin, 18, was shot to death Friday night near their Country Club Hills residence. He was home from college on winter break.
“I’m hoarse from crying,” said Haney, 72.
Justin was shot in the chest, and police found him face down in the snow in the 4100 block of 186th Street, just a few blocks from their home. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:30 p.m., the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
An autopsy Saturday determined Justin died from a gunshot wound in a homicide, the medical examiner’s office said. Country Club Hills police are investigating. Police did not release an update Sunday.
Police had been called to the 4500 block of Provincetown Drive about 7:20 p.m. because someone heard shots fired in the area, police said. While officers were in the area, a neighborhood resident told one of them there was someone down in the snow on 186th Street, police said.
Haney said she believes Justin left her house in the 4500 block of West 185th Place about 6:30 p.m. after he grew impatient waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. She said she doesn’t know if Justin was walking toward his girlfriend’s house, but he ventured through a “bad part of town.”
“He was running, trying to get back home they said, when they found him,” she said. “I know (crying) is not going to bring him back. He didn’t deserve what he got.”
Haney said her son grew up in Country Club Hills and was attending Southern Illinois University as a freshman majoring in business because he wanted to be a stockbroker.
She said she was not aware of any feud he had with anybody in the short time he was back home during his visit.
Haney had adopted Justin with the help of Lutheran Social Services, and her daughter, Antonia Thomas, now 33, helped raise him. She said she knew someone had to take him or he would become an orphan, and she said Mayor Dwight Welch, who lives nearby, and other officials and people from the community all had in hand in raising Justin.
“Being a single mother,” Haney said, “I had a village to help me.”
She said Justin’s biological mother also had come back into his life several years ago and Justin lived with her for a year in Peoria during his senior year in high school as Haney was recovering from knee surgery.
Justin had gone to Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields for his first three years of high school before going to Peoria.
He loved sports, especially basketball and football, often playing basketball behind his house with brother, Joseph Haney, 20, who also is adopted, and their friends. His room decor included New York Knicks memorabilia.
Haney said Justin was “very smart” and “all-around.” As she and her daughter looked through his photos Sunday, they mentioned how he always liked to dress nice and loved driving around.
Haney said dozens of Justin’s friends had been coming by all weekend mourning his death. She said Ald. James Ford also stopped by and Welch called from out-of-town to offer his condolences.
She said Justin’s body had not been released as of Sunday and she wasn’t sure what to do about funeral arrangements.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been through something like this,” she said.
Source: Southtown Star