Cop shot with own gun: Shot With Own Weapon
Published: October 2, 2015
Cop shot with own gun: Shot With Own Weapon, One month after Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz’s death, the mystery around who killed the Fox Lake officer appears to be no clearer than in the days following his shooting. Investigators shared new information at a press conference outside the Fox Lake police station Thursday, including revealing for the first time that Gliniewicz was shot twice with his own weapon. But Lake County sheriff’s office Detective Christopher Covelli also said that despite diligent work, all theories remain on the table in the “extraordinarily complex” investigation.
Gliniewicz was shot once in the right-side front of his protective vest and once in the upper-left chest area, said George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
There were indications at the crime scene that a struggle occurred, but test results were inconclusive in determining whether Gliniewicz fired his service weapon, Filenko said.
“In layman’s terms, the weapon could have been fired by Lt. Gliniewicz, or he could have been in close proximity to the weapon being fired,” Filenko said.
Gliniewicz, 52, was found dead near U.S. Highway 12 in Fox Lake on Sept. 1, shortly after he radioed that he had spotted suspicious activity and was pursuing three people on foot.
Filenko described the shot to the lieutenant’s right side as “similar to that of a sledgehammer” and severe enough to be incapacitating.
He said he could not comment on what at the scene suggested a struggle had taken place, or whether other shots had been fired. Authorities have previously said Gliniewicz’s .40-caliber service weapon was found near his body and that multiple gunshots were fired at the scene.
Photo gallery: Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran of the Fox Lake Police Department, was shot and killed Sept. 1, 2015.
Covelli said that although authorities have not yet determined the manner of the officer’s death, they are investigating the case as a homicide based on the evidence and facts available.
Coroner Thomas Rudd previously raised the possibility the second, fatal shot to Gliniewicz’s chest was self-inflicted, saying he needed additional information from police before deciding on a matter of death, whether homicide, suicide, accidental or undetermined.
Melodie Gliniewicz, the officer’s widow, said in an interview with Crime Watch Daily that talk of suicide was “disrespectful, hurtful, irresponsible” and didn’t fit with her husband’s focus on the future. He’d been applying for chief of police jobs, talking about retiring from Fox Lake and planning family vacations, she said.
“I wholeheartedly believe he was murdered,” she said tearfully.
Investigators have recovered nine unidentified DNA samples from the crime scene, and further testing has determined that one of those belongs to a male, Filenko said. He said he couldn’t say where the DNA was found at the scene and that it’s not yet clear from how many different people those samples came. Authorities will continue collecting DNA samples Thursday and expect to submit between 30 to 40 new samples to the state crime lab by Friday for further testing, he said.
The funeral of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, 52, on Sept. 7, 2015, included an 18-mile procession through Antioch, his hometown, and Fox Lake, the community he served.
“DNA is always significant. Until we identify it, we can’t eliminate any possibility,” Filenko said.
Authorities also are awaiting results of additional ballistics testing, Filenko said.
As yet, investigators have identified no motive, he added.
Authorities also revealed additional information about Gliniewicz’s activity the morning of the shooting. According to Filenko, GPS data showed he was in the area near the crime scene for about 20 minutes before radioing that he had seen suspicious activity. Filenko said Gliniewicz may have been patrolling the area on foot after village officials raised concerns about vandalism in the area.
Village officials held a staff meeting to discuss potential problems on the property, including spray-painted graffiti and kids breaking into a building, about a month before Gliniewicz’s death, said village spokesman Dave Bayless.
Though Gliniewicz initially said he didn’t need assistance from another officer after reporting the suspicious activity, when a dispatcher asked a second time, he said yes, Filenko said.
Previously, authorities said they believed the three people Gliniewicz described remained in the Fox Lake area after the shooting, but Filenko said Thursday it’s possible they fled immediately. Investigators tested paths of escape from the crime scene and found that some led to major roadways within minutes, when the perimeter could have taken up to an hour to set up, he said.
Authorities have held back details about the officer’s shooting death because they don’t want to compromise a potential prosecution by providing information only the gunman or a witness would know, Filenko said.
Both he and Covelli said they decided to release some additional details partly in response to questions about the limited information released so far.
Filenko said they are trying to be transparent because “I’ve heard the word conspiracy quite often.”
Covelli and Bayless said Gliniewicz was not involved in an internal investigation into the police department’s handling of an altercation between an officer and a man who had been arrested in December 2014 — a probe that led to the officer and police Chief Michael Behan being placed on paid administrative leave. Bayless said Gliniewicz had been part of a police department review of procedures and equipment done as a “best practice” during the change in leadership after Behan’s retirement. He left the department just days before Gliniewicz’s death.
The review and the internal investigation are both still in progress, and Bayless said it wasn’t clear when results would be available.
Covelli and Filenko stressed that the investigation into Gliniewicz’s death remains very active as it enters a second month.
“There hasn’t been any kind of a slowdown here,” Filenko said.
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