Fox Lake Police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz, whose Sept. 1 death set off a manhunt for suspects north of Chicago, was shot by his own weapon, investigators announced this week.
The 52-year-old, who was a 30-year veteran of the Fox Lake Police Department near the Illinois/Wisconsin line, was shot and killed near an abandoned concrete plant while investigating three suspicious men, described as two white men and one black man, the Northwest Herald reported.
An investigation into Gliniewicz's death found that the officer was on foot in the area for about 20 minutes before he called dispatch to inform them that he was questioning the individuals, according to Commander George Filenko of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
Filenko said during a Thursday news conference that there appeared to be a struggle at the crime scene and Gliniewicz was shot with his own weapon. Though the case is being pursued as a homicide, tests could not determine who fired the officer's .40-caliber service gun, according to the Herald.
"The weapon could have been fired by Lt. Gliniewicz, or he could have been in close proximity of the weapon being fired," Filenko said.
According to WLS-TV, the first shot
struck Gliniewicz in his police vest with "the force of a sledgehammer," while a second bullet hit him in the "upper left chest region," Filenko said.
But Melodie Gliniewicz, the slain officer's wife, rejects any suggestions that her husband may have committed suicide, saying in an interview with the syndicated show "Crime Watch Daily" that the notion is "disrespectful, hurtful, irresponsible."
"I wholeheartedly believe he was murdered," Melodie Gliniewicz said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Investigators found nine unidentified samples of DNA at the crime scene and said that more tests would be needed to determine who those belonged to. Filenko said at the news conference that he was not sure how many different people those samples came from.
According to the Tribune, investigators said Thursday they will submit 30 to 40 new DNA samples connected to the case to the state crime lab for continued tests.
"DNA is always significant," Filenko said. "Until we identify it, we can't eliminate any possibility."
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