Investigators 'making progress' in Fox Lake police officer murder case
Nearly 17 minutes passed from the time Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz radioed a dispatcher about three suspicious suspects walking on a remote village road until backup officers found him in a wooded and marshy area with a fatal gunshot wound, police said Wednesday.
The time frame of the shooting was among a handful of new details to emerge about how the 52-year-old Gliniewicz died Tuesday morning, while a continued heavy police presence marked the second day of the hunt for his killers.
The new details include that the shooting took place on property occupied by an old cement plant off a gravel and dirt road at the end of Honing Road, and that the veteran police officer's body was found about 50 yards from his squad car.
But police refused to divulge other key details, including specifics about the shooting and autopsy report, whether Gliniewicz was wearing a bulletproof vest, if he was shot by his own service weapon, and whether his car was equipped with a dashboard camera.
George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force leading the investigation, said he was unable to release more information "due to the ongoing investigation."
But Filenko said police are making headway in trying to identify the two white males and one black male suspected of gunning down Gliniewicz, a 30-year police veteran.
He said police have checked several leads, many provided by Fox Lake residents and over social media, and are eliminating possibilities. He urged residents to remain vigilant and continue to provide tips and question anything suspicious or out of the ordinary in the area.
"I think we are making progress," Filenko said. "People should dial 9-1-1 if they suspect anything or even have a feeling something is wrong."
About 10 p.m. and later Wednesday night, Lake County sheriff detective Chris Covelli said officers began searching a cornfield east of Route 12 and south of Route 120 in Volo for two suspects. He said officers on scene said it was a suspicious circumstances investigation.
"There is no indication at this time these two scenes are connected at this point," Covelli said, referring to the shooting of Gliniewicz.
In the day after Gliniewicz was killed, area schools and Fox Lake's library closed, bunting was placed on the police station and a makeshift memorial grew in front of the building as part of the tribute to the fallen police officer, who was the adviser to the department's Explorer Post 300 and was the married father of four children.
Fox Lake schools decided to reopen today, with some precautions.
"There may be a police presence in school tomorrow," said a statement to parents issued Wednesday afternoon by Fox Lake District 114 Superintendent John Donnellan. "This is not necessary from a safety perspective, but rather law enforcement and school officials wish for students to feel safe upon their return." The statement also spoke for Grant High School District 124, Gavin District 37 and Big Hollow District 38.
Wednesday also marked a change in police tactics in hunting for the suspects.
The helicopters and heavily armed vehicles were gone from their highly visible staging point on Sayton Road, just east of Route 12. Instead, squad cars filled with officers from Fox Lake, the Illinois State Police, and other villages in Lake and McHenry counties were seen driving through neighborhoods.
Lake County sheriff's detective Chris Covelli said police are using a "saturation patrol" that's designed to search for the suspects and canvas neighborhoods to take statements from residents, while also showing residents police are in the area.
Covelli said members of the FBI, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Marshals Service are in Fox Lake assisting with the investigation.
Gliniewicz was found with a fatal gunshot wound minutes after he radioed a police dispatcher at 7:52 a.m. Tuesday about the suspicious suspects, then again at 7:55 a.m. when he requested backup during a foot chase, Filenko said during a news conference Wednesday. Two officers arrived on the scene at 8:01 a.m. and found Gliniewicz in a marshy and wooded area about 50 yards from his police car at 8:09 a.m.
Lake County Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo said the 8:25 a.m. time of death was based on heart rate monitoring equipment used by paramedics at the scene.
Filenko said Fox Lake police do not use body cameras.
Gliniewicz's gun was not in its holster but was found at the scene, Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said Tuesday. But Filenko would not confirm or discuss that information Wednesday.
The 2-square-mile search grid at Sayton, Frontage and Rollins roads and Route 59 created by police to hunt down the suspects ended about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Covelli said. Nearly 400 officers, six aircraft and 48 K-9 units were involved in the search, he said. He did not know exactly how many police departments sent manpower Tuesday but said most of Lake, McHenry, and Cook county departments had squads at the scene.
Former Fox Lake Police Chief Mike Behan, who retired from the police department Friday, three days before Gliniewicz was killed in the line of duty, said he loved Gliniewicz and his family.
"He would do anything for this town and this police department. Honestly, he never worked for me -- we were partners," Behan said.
Behan said he "grew up" with Gliniewicz while the two worked together at the department for 30 years.
"When I got the call Monday, I couldn't believe it," he said. "I thought it was a mistake."
Filenko said the law enforcement agencies would continue to search until a suspect is in custody.
"We're not going to stop until we catch these guys," he said.