Illinois officer’s death to be ruled suicide, law enforcement sources say



Explorer Devan Arbay, 17, holds a black and purple flag to honor Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz on the 100 block of U.S. Hwy. 12 on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015 in Fox Lake, Ill. When asked why he was here, Arbay said,” To show the law enforcement community they are not alone.” Gliniewicz was Arbay’s instructor in the explorers program. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

By Tribune News Service

CHICAGO — Authorities have called a news conference for Wednesday to announce “significant new information” regarding the shooting death of a Fox Lake, Ill., police officer, and multiple law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation have told the Chicago Tribune that authorities are expected to announce that he took his own life.

The sources say authorities believe Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, 52, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Sept. 1.

The new information comes two months after officers found Gliniewicz mortally wounded in a remote, marshy area of the village near the Wisconsin border.

Around 8 a.m. on Sept. 1, Gliniewicz radioed that he was pursuing two white males and a black male. Dispatchers lost contact with Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran and a fixture in Fox Lake, and responding officers found him shot and his .40-caliber handgun rested nearby.

A few days later, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said he couldn’t at that point rule out suicide or any other manner of death. A month after Gliniewicz died, police said he had been shot twice with his own weapon — once in his protective vest and once in the upper left area of his torso. But authorities said they could not yet rule on a manner of death, and police said there were signs of a struggle at the scene.

Police said GPS data showed Gliniewicz was on foot near the crime scene for about 20 minutes before calling in that he had seen suspicious activity. The officer had agreed to look into reports of vandalism in the area at a recent meeting with village officials, police said.

Gliniewicz long led the department’s Explorers program, which gives aspiring officers up-close experience with policing. Many people in town referred to him as G.I. Joe.

Late Tuesday night, some Fox Lake area residents reacted to the news.

Crystal Moore, of Fox Lake, said many unanswered questions remain.

“It’s a really messed-up case, and really sad for the community,” she said. “I respect him, and I think he’s a hero.”

The village has been in the midst of a review of procedures and equipment triggered by the retirement of police Chief Michael Behan days before Gliniewicz died. Just before he retired, Behan and another officer had been put on leave pending an investigation into the department’s handling of an altercation between an officer and an arrestee in 2014. The village has revealed very little about those inquiries.