Fellow officers mourn Lt. Gliniewicz: 'Rest easy, my friend'
Mourners mobilized early Monday morning to join the visitation line at Antioch High School or to claim a spot along portions of the 18-mile processional route.
By the thousands they came to Fox Lake and Antioch to grieve, to honor and to say goodbye to fallen Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.
Gliniewicz was remembered as a courageous police officer, loving father, doting husband and "hero" of a brother.
Friends and family of the 52-year-old veteran officer, affectionately known as "G.I. Joe," shared their stories and prayers in eulogies during the funeral service at the high school, nearly a week after he was shot to death while in pursuit of three men he described as suspicious. Authorities still are searching for the trio.
"When we were growing up, we all knew Joe was a hero," said brother Michael Gliniewicz, an Antioch Fire Department lieutenant. "Now, a nation knows he is a hero."
Michael Gliniewicz said his brother was "reasonable, fair and just." He said Joe Gliniewicz loved his wife, four sons and the hundreds of police Explorers he trained during his 30-year law enforcement career.
"I love you, brother," he said through tears. "You will always be a part of my life."
Joliet police officer Rachel Smith Berg told the crowd Joe Gliniewicz was the kind of officer who, when faced with danger, "would run toward it rather than run away."
"We are with you, Joe," Berg said. "And we know you will ways be with us."
The mourners were a mix of friends, neighbors, relatives, teenage police Explorers from across the state, and more than 2,000 cops from nearby towns and as far away as New York and Las Vegas.
"Rest easy, my friend," retired Frankfort police officer Jeff Dalton said in a eulogy. "We've got it from here."
The crowd included dignitaries such as Gov. Bruce Rauner, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Chief George Filenko -- who leads the Gliniewicz death investigation -- Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, and Undersheriff Raymond Rose.
Many Lake County residents attended the visitation to pay their respects.
"He was a good man," Olaf Cook said as he left the visitation. "I can't thank him enough for all he's done."
"He will forever be a hero in our hearts," Michele Torkilsen said near the auditorium after the public viewing procession.
The long, emotional day began shortly before 7 a.m. with the arrival at the school of the flag-draped casket.
Mourners moved slowly through the visitation line. Screens in the viewing areas featured a slide presentation showing events from Gliniewicz's life -- his wedding day, work events, family gatherings and his work with the Explorers.
The open casket was in front of a stage in the quiet, dark auditorium. The hallway leading to the auditorium was filled with flowers and photographs.
Former Fox Lake Chief Mike Behan said during the service that three current police officers were trained by Gliniewicz and were part of the Fox Lake Explorer post.
Behan retired from the Fox Lake Police Department three days before Gliniewicz was killed.
"Joe has been in my family since 1985," Behan said, adding his family includes the Fox Lake Police Department, residents and the Gliniewicz family. "Today, Joe, you've become a nation's family."
New York police officer Kevin Falconer said he came to the service to represent the Brotherhood for the Fallen out of New York City. The brotherhood has chapters in major cities around the country, and its goal is to support police officers and their families, Falconer said.
"It's good that we can come out and show support like this," he said.
Mourners lined the sidewalk as the casket was loaded into a hearse for the 18-mile funeral procession. Honor guard and bagpipers played "Amazing Grace."
A Lake County sheriff's SUV led the procession through Antioch, Ingleside and Fox Lake. That car was followed by dozens of officers from different departments on motorcycles and hundreds of squad cars from the suburbs, state and around the country.
Crowds lined the procession route, and many people held signs honoring Gliniewicz as the motorcade rolled by.
Antioch residents Keith Schmitt and Ann Hitschel of the NeuHaven subdivision were out early to organize a neighborhood gathering of nearly 50 people along the procession route at the intersection of Route 173 and Deercrest Drive to show their support for the stream of police vehicles headed to the funeral.
"We're one of the first subdivisions coming in, so we really wanted to show our support," said Schmitt, who added he was a former police officer who knew Gliniewicz as an Explorer when he was younger. "The police matter. They put their lives on the line every single day."
"We knew that (Route) 173 would be a main thoroughfare," Hitschel said. "We support the badge."
About 100 people waited for the procession at Devlin and Rollins roads in Fox Lake, about a mile from where Gliniewicz was killed.
Cassie Campbell and her boyfriend, Mike Tirrell, said they waited more than two hours for the first police vehicles to arrive.
"We live in Volo, and we feel we are part of the community," Campbell said. "So we feel it's important to show the family and the officers that we support them."
The crowd was mostly quiet as the cars passed. One woman held her hand over her heart, while two boys and their father saluted the motorcade. Several others simply said "thank you."
One solemn spot was in front of the Fox Lake police station, where Gliniewicz worked during in his law enforcement career.
A row of American flags lined the lawn as hundreds of people waited for the procession. Bystanders passed the time reading tributes at the makeshift memorial to Gliniewicz. There were flowers, handmade and professionally produced posters, Mylar balloons and even stuffed animals.
Ernesto "Tank" Hernandez, a Metra train engineer from Alsip, was one of those who visited the memorial with the Blue Crew motorcycle club, which includes a law enforcement contingent in its membership.
"Having a fellow brother die in the line of duty, that hurts us all," Hernandez said. "We came here to show our support. He's gone, but he's not forgotten."
• Daily Herald staff writers Scott Morgan and Robert Sanchez contributed to this report