Police hunting for 3 suspects after Fox Lake cop shot dead
A 30-year Fox Lake police veteran was fatally wounded early Tuesday, touching off a massive manhunt involving scores of heavily armed police who used helicopters and dogs to search for three suspected gunmen.
Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose identified the dead police officer as Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. The 52-year-old Gliniewicz, who was adviser to the department's Explorer Post 300 among other duties, was married and the father of four children.
A backup officer found Gliniewicz in a marshy area near Route 12 and Sayton Road in Fox Lake after Gliniewicz had called in a report to dispatchers at 7:52 a.m. that he was in a foot chase with three suspicious people -- two white males and one black male.
Gliniewicz's gun was not in its holster but was found at the scene, Rose said. It was not immediately known how it got away from him, and police have not said what weapon was used to shoot the officer, who died at the scene.
No one is in custody, Lake County sheriff's detective Christopher Covelli said.
Police would not comment on what sparked Gliniewicz's encounter with the suspects. No further descriptions of the suspects were provided.
Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit spoke about the "senseless tragedy" that struck his community.
"Today, not only did Fox Lake lose a family member, but I lost a very dear friend," Schmit said. "Understandably, our officers are having a very difficult day today."
Schmit said the coming days will be difficult as the community remembers Gliniewicz as an officer, a father and a member of the community. He was known as "G.I. Joe" because of his military service, officials said.
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement that said they have "lost a fellow member and brother who died heroically serving his community."
FOP President Chris Southwood said the organization's thoughts and prayers go out to the slain officer's family, friends and fellow police officers. "He leaves a legacy of several decades of service to Fox Lake for which we are humbly grateful," Southwood wrote.
He added: "This is the very real danger that all law enforcement officials knowingly face every day when they put on the badge and go out to protect all of us. We pledge to honor his memory by continuing to protect and serve the citizens of Illinois, and hope that those responsible can be quickly apprehended without further bloodshed and brought to justice."
In honor of Gliniewicz and in support for Fox Lake police, community residents, business owners and Explorers stood on Route 12 and waved signs Tuesday evening.
"He was such a great person," business owner Ruth Hogan said.
The shooting prompted an extensive emergency response across the village.
Fox Lake village hall and the Fox Lake Public Library closed, and several roads were blocked off by police.
Grant Community High School Superintendent Christine Sefcik sent an email saying local school districts would be closed Wednesday.
"The local school districts, including Grant Community High School, Fox Lake, Gavin, and Big Hollow, have been in communication with village officials and law enforcement all evening," she wrote. "As a result of those reports and deliberations, we have all decided that it is in the best interests of our students, the community, and law enforcement, to cancel school for tomorrow, Wednesday."
Metra commuter train service on the Milwaukee District North Line was suspended shortly after the start of the manhunt, but it resumed about 3:30 p.m.
The Federal Aviation Authority imposed temporary flight restrictions in the Fox Lake area at the request of police. The no-fly zone began at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and is in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday, officials said. Police aircraft are exempted.
Several area schools, including Grant Community High School and Fox Lake Elementary District 114, were in various levels of lockdown throughout the day.
Grant High School District 124 Superintendent Christine Sefcik said she was ordered to go on lockdown by police Tuesday morning. Sefcik said all students and staffers were kept away from exterior glass and out of view. They were not allowed in the hallways and no one was allowed to leave the building during the day, she said.
According to Grant High School employees, after-school activities and bus service were canceled. The school ultimately released students who drive and those being picked up by their parents.
Ground zero for the search centered around Sayton, Frontage and Rollins roads and Route 59 in Fox Lake -- a large, eclectic area that contains a mix of homes and industrial buildings and woods.
More than 100 officers from local, county, state and federal agencies were involved in the manhunt, Covelli said. Police were on foot and in helicopters and used canine units brought in from various jurisdictions, including McHenry County.
Three officers suffered heat exhaustion while searching for the suspects, Covelli said.
He urged Fox Lake-area residents to call 9-1-1 if they see anything suspicious. "Anything out of the ordinary, anything they're not used to seeing," Covelli said. "No tip is too small."
Area residents and business owners were on guard as well.
Employees and customers at Val's Fresh Market on Grand Avenue were buzzing about the shooting and the resulting police activity throughout the day.
Store manager Kyla Funk said employees were walking around the store and watching for suspicious people. They know who the regular shoppers are at the small store, she said.
"(It's) just to be sure, for everyone's safety," Funk said.
Cashier Alma Martinez, who lives in Fox Lake, called the situation "creepy" because it is so close to home.
"Not even the suburbs are exempt from crime," Martinez said. "But when it hits home, it's very, very scary."
Although Val's stayed open Tuesday, other businesses in the same shopping center kept their doors closed. Among them was the Family Dollar store next to Val's. Employees were inside, but they weren't letting customers in.
Fox Lake resident Bob Leff left his house Tuesday morning to shop at Wal-Mart just as police were starting to block off roads in his neighborhood.
"By the time I came back, everything was sealed off," he said.
He got together with pal Chuck Gasperini of Spring Grove and headed to the local movie theater. When they got there, the business was shuttered, he said.
"We figured, hey, we'd go to the show -- but that's locked down, too," Leff said.
With nothing else planned, Leff and Gasperini spent a chunk of the day watching police cars whiz past and helicopters fly overhead.
Leff said he moved to Fox Lake 17 months ago from Las Vegas. He described the village as too quiet of a town for this sort of violence.
"It's a shame," he said.
The last time a police officer was killed in the line of duty was in 1984, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said.
• Daily Herald staff writers Eric Peterson and Erin Hegarty contributed to this report.