False report jolts search for Ill. officer’s killer
Fox Lake, Ill. — A false report sent dozens of officers scrambling through a cornfield at night in hopes of finding the suspects wanted in the fatal shooting of a northern Illinois police officer, officials said Thursday, as the manhunt entered a third day.
The report came from a woman who phoned police late Wednesday night to say that two men tried to get inside her car while she was stopped on the side of the road because of car trouble. The caller said the two men, spooked that she was calling police, fled into a cornfield. Sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers, aided by helicopters and dogs, spent five hours searching the area in the community of Volo, near the village of Fox Lake, where Tuesday’s killing took place.
Eventually, the caller told authorities she made up the story because she wanted attention from a family that employed her as a nanny, said Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Christopher Covelli. The 30-year-old woman, Kristin B. Kiefer of Vernon Hills, was charged with disorderly conduct and falsifying a police report and is being held at the Lake County Jail. It was not clear whether she already had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a 30-year police veteran, was shot Tuesday morning in the village of Fox Lake, while pursuing three suspicious men he spotted on his way to work, authorities say. Gliniewicz told dispatchers the three ran into a swampy area, and he requested a second unit.
Dispatchers soon lost contact with him. Backup officers found him about 50 yards from his squad car with a gunshot wound. He died soon after.
At a Wednesday evening vigil, Gliniewicz’s wife, Mel, and their four sons took to a stage to roaring applause.
“Joe was my best friend, my world, my hero, the love of my life for the last 26 and a half years,” she told a crowd of hundreds of people while struggling to hold back tears. Participants lit candles and released a sky lantern.
Authorities have broadened the hunt for the three men after an initial focus in the area of the shooting turned up nothing.
“I’m not going to put a time limit on this. We’ve got a murdered colleague,” said Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko, the lead investigator on the case. “We’re not gonna stop.”
A major challenge was the lack of a description of the suspects beyond the vague one that came from Gliniewicz, who told dispatchers he was pursuing three suspicious men — two white, one black — moments before he was shot.
“That was the only description provided,” Filenko told reporters Wednesday.
Filenko said there was no indication he was intentionally targeted, though authorities did not rule out that possibility.
Gliniewicz’s death is the third law enforcement fatality in Illinois this year, according to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks officers’ deaths so their names can be enshrined on a Washington, D.C., memorial.
It says police shooting deaths in the U.S. are down 13 percent this year compared with the same January-to-September period last year. There were 30 last year and 26 this year.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch condemned the recent fatal shootings, telling a housing conference in Washington that violence against “all of us, regardless of what uniform any of us wear” must end.