Fox Lake manhunt ends, but suspects still sought in officer’s shooting death

They set up a 2-mile perimeter across tricky terrain and brought in helicopters, canine units, federal agents, night vision equipment and body heat sensors. They fielded more than 100 tips and cleared every home in the cordoned-off area.

But early Wednesday, police called off the search for three people sought in connection with the death of a Fox Lake, Illinois, police officer.

The investigation will continue, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko told CNN, but the suspects in Lt. Joe Gliniewicz’s slaying could be out of town, or even out of state.

So far, police have found no witnesses, but they did recover surveillance tape. The quality of the video is not promising, but investigators were going through it Wednesday morning, Filenko said.

Hampering the search was the landscape where the manhunt unfolded. It’s a mix of abandoned buildings, occupied by squatters, and residential and commercial properties situated among heavily wooded areas and a marsh. Some of the terrain is overgrown and swampy, and railroad tracks run through a portion of the area. Tuesday’s intense sun didn’t help matters.

Yet with almost no time to grieve, law enforcement officers scoured this patch of northern Illinois in hopes of finding Gliniewicz’s killer.

The 32-year police veteran was on patrol Tuesday morning when he made a radio call saying he was running after three suspicious people, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.

That was the last time anyone heard from him. Fellow officers from Fox Lake Police Department arrived to find their colleague shot to death.

No one knows why Gliniewicz was gunned down, except for his killer.

A challenging search

The FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined in the hunt. More than 100 law enforcement officers raked through the heavy woods near Fox Lake on foot, all-terrain vehicles and horseback.

Some had K-9 partners. Helicopters aided the search.

Nearby residents saw SWAT teams canvassing their yards, CNN affiliate WLS said. Officers also went house to house looking for clues.

“I hope they catch them soon,” neighbor Brenda Day said, “because I’m a single mom of three, and I’m scared.”

School officials were anxious, too. Several Illinois school districts, including Fox Lake, Gavin and Big Hollow, were closed Wednesday, the Grant Community High School website said.

More than an officer

Gliniewicz’s passion for police work went far beyond what he was paid to do.

He helped lead the Fox Lake Police Department Explorer Post, which mentors young people interested in careers in law enforcement, WLS said.

Gliniewicz, known as “G.I. Joe,” was supposed to retire at the end of this month. The day before he was killed, Gliniewicz met with the mayor to discuss his retirement plans and to make sure the Explorer program continued without him, according to WLS.

“He loved his community and loved his job, and he will be very sorely missed in this community,” Grant Township supervisor Catherine “Kay” Starostovic said.

Gliniewicz was also an Army veteran who served in active duty and reserve from 1980 to 2007. He left the military with the rank of first sergeant.

The lieutenant is survived by a wife and four children.

His death marks the 26th time an officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty this year. Just last week, a sheriff’s deputy in Houston was gunned down in an ambush attack.

“It is a very tough time to be a police officer at this moment,” CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander said. “However, these men and women that are out there doing this job, they’re not going to stop doing it.”

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