Gunshot residue on Lt. Gliniewicz's hands but investigators don't know who pulled trigger

By Hilary Shenfeld
October 01, 2015 06:25 PM
Lake County Sheriff s Office/AP

Exactly one month after Fox Lake, Illinois, police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was shot and killed while on duty, investigators for the first time have revealed where the gunshots came from: Gliniewicz’s own weapon.

At a Thursday press conference, authorities also disclosed for the first time that there was an apparent struggle at the scene of the shooting, which occurred Sept. 1 in a swampy, remote area in Fox Lake. Cops continue to investigate the shooting as a homicide, George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said Thursday, but have not ruled out other possibilities.

“Nothing has been eliminated or is off the table,” Filenko said, adding “At this point, we have no motive.”

Gliniewicz, 52, was discovered dead on Sept. 1 after he radioed that he was chasing after “three suspicious suspects on foot.” His death sparked a massive manhunt for his alleged killers, but in ensuing weeks, conflicting reports emerged as to how Gliniewicz died, with some sources close to the investigation suggesting his death might have been a suicide or accidental.

At Thursday’s press conference, Filenko said that Gliniewicz was shot twice. One shot hit him in the front of his protective vest on the right side near his waist, with an impact so severe it was enough to incapacitate him and would have been “similar to that of a sledgehammer,” Filenko said. The second and fatal shot was to the upper left area of the lieutenant’s chest.

Both shots were fired by his weapon, Filenko said.

Filenko said there was gunshot residue on Gliniewicz’s hands, but that detail is inconclusive in terms of the manner of his death. “The weapon could have been fired by Lt. Gliniewicz or he could have been in close proximity of the weapon being fired,” Filenko said.

Amid the rumor and speculation, Gliniewicz’s wife, Melodie Gliniewicz, and son D.J. firmly believe that the officer did not take his own life.

Investigators on Thursday also revealed new information about DNA found at the scene, saying that they discovered nine unidentified DNA samples and have taken more than 100 samples from people who may have come in contact with him, including police officers, Filenko said.

Also on Thursday, Filenko revealed that after Gliniewicz radioed in that he was chasing three suspects, he declined the first offer of assistance but accepted the second. Filenko also disclosed that Gliniewicz was on the scene 20 minutes before he called in. His police cruiser was parked, and “he was on foot for about 20 minutes walking through the area,” said Filenko, noting that Gliniewicz “took it upon himself” to investigate reports from several weeks prior of vandalism and trespassing in the vicinity.

Despite the massive manhunt after the shooting, no suspects have yet been found.

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