New details in investigation of death of Illinois officer

AP News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 4:50 PM
New details in investigation of death of Illinois officer

FOX LAKE, Ill. (AP) — New details are emerging more than week after the shooting death of a northern Illinois police officer sparked a manhunt for three suspects and a national outpouring of grief.

An official said Friday the officer had been shot twice. Investigators — who have yet to identify any suspects — lashed out Thursday at a county coroner, saying he jeopardized their investigation by publicly discussing details of the officer's wounds as he announced that he could not yet rule the death a homicide, suicide or accident.

A guide to what's known about the case:

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THE DEATH

Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, a 30-year police veteran, was shot Sept. 1 in the village of Fox Lake, one of Illinois' most popular recreational areas. He told dispatchers he was chasing three men near a swampy area and requested a second unit, according to The Lake County Sheriff's Office. Dispatchers soon lost contact with him, and backup officers found him about 50 yards from his squad car with a gunshot wound. He died soon after. Police say they've previously received several complaints about vandalism and squatters in the area, but it was not clear what brought Gliniewicz to the scene.

Fox Lake is about 45 miles north of Chicago.

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THE LATEST

A local government official familiar with the investigation said Friday that Gliniewicz was hit twice: once in his protective vest and once at an angle that allowed the bullet to enter his chest.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation. The official said the fatal shot was fired from above the vest in a downward direction.

The official said it has yet to be determined whether Gliniewicz fired those two shots himself and that technicians are testing his hands for gunpowder residue. They're also running tests on any materiel under his fingernails that might point to a close-quarters struggle with an attacker, the official said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office says several shots were fired, but hasn't said whether any came from the officer's weapon or how many times Gliniewicz was hit.

The county's major crimes task force is also awaiting lab results on several items, including DNA recovered at the scene that does not belong to the lieutenant. They say they're also waiting for ballistics test results.

A statement from the sheriff's office Thursday said the investigation is "moving forward."

But there have been setbacks. A false tip early on sent the manhunt on a five-hour wild goose chase through a cornfield in the dark. And three men seen on home security video near the scene turned out to have no connection to the case, investigators have said.

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CORONER CRITICIZED

Officials leading the investigation, who have provided few details about the death, are criticizing Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd for releasing details on the officer's wounds.

Rudd told the Chicago Tribune that Gliniewicz was shot in the torso. A day earlier, Rudd told multiple media organizations the officer died due to a single "devastating" gunshot wound. He also said his office has not ruled out the possibility of suicide or accident, explaining that he cannot yet make a ruling on the manner of death.

"Dr. Rudd, releasing information which is sensitive to this investigation, puts the entire case at risk. All of the progress made since this tragic incident is potentially in jeopardy," Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko said in Thursday's written statement.

Undersheriff Raymond Rose said, "Dr. Rudd's actions are completely outside of policy, procedure, protocols, and are completely unprofessional."

Rudd has not responded to media requests for comment in response.

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THE INVESTIGATION

Authorities say they are still pushing ahead full force with help from federal agencies. At times, more than 100 investigators have been at work directly on the case. An FBI spokeswoman says they continue to support the investigation.