Illinois Officials Continue Search for People Who Fatally Shot Police Officer for Unknown Reasons

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With almost no time to grieve, law enforcement officers continue scouring the deeply wooded areas of northern Illinois to look for Lt. Joe 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.

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz is seen in a photo released by the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz is seen in a photo released by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

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.

The FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined in the hunt. But the search for the three suspects has proven arduous.

A challenging search

Well over 100 law enforcement officers have 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 team 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 are anxious, too. Several Illinois school districts, including Fox Lake, Gavin and Big Hollow, will be closed Wednesday, the Grant Community High School’s website said.

Until the search is over, residents should stay inside as much as possible and report any suspicious activity, Chris Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office 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 a rank of First Sergeant.

The lieutenant is survived by a wife 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.”