Slain Illinois police officer killed by single gunshot
It has now been eight days since Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz was found mortally wounded in a remote field in far northwest suburban Fox Lake but the investigation results still lack clarity.
The decorated 30-year veteran Illinois police officer who was killed on duty last week succumbed to a single gunshot wound, a coroner told local media on Wednesday, though it was not yet known who fired the fatal bullet.
Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd told reporters on Wednesday, “Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz, 52, was killed by a single bullet though it was not yet clear whether the gunshot was the result of homicide, suicide or an accident.
“We obviously know that a bullet killed him,” Rudd told Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV. “I can’t rule out a suicide. I can’t rule out an accident. And I can’t rule in a homicide,” he said.
The cop was found wounded on Sept. 1 after reporting to dispatch that he was pursuing three suspects on foot. He later died. Investigators were searching for a second week for three suspects who might have been involved in his death.
“The suspects have been described as two white men and one black man. No additional details, such as clothing, height, or weight were given by Gliniewicz during a radio call just prior to his death,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko said at a news conference.
DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene was not from Gliniewicz, but from an “unknown donor,” Filenko added.
Investigators have fielded 185 leads, Filenko said. Officials are re-canvassing the area and re-interviewing individuals.
There is much about the crime scene that has never been officially released. Rudd said he would not reveal officially how many times the officer had been shot, only that he died from a “single devastating gunshot wound,” and that he has not determined officially whether the officer was even shot at close range or from a distance.
For now, he said, he has to keep an open mind, but the case is still a murder investigation. “Based on what is coming from law enforcement agencies, we are pursuing it as if it is a homicide,” he said. “If we are told later that they don’t have evidence of a homicide, then we have to consider the other manners of death, which could be suicide or accident.”
On Wednesday, Filenko acknowledged that he had task force members present, and said he did not disagree with Rudd’s assessment.
Filenko confirmed Wednesday that officers have yet to interview Gliniewicz’s family, a meeting they hope to set up within the next few days.
“We’re giving the family time to grieve,” he said. “Obviously we’ve got to respect the widow’s privacy.”
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Illinois on Monday for Gliniewicz’s funeral.