The Illinois cop who was shot and killed a month ago, sparking a huge manhunt in a suburban community north of Chicago, was killed by his own gun, investigators finally confirmed today.
However, they have yet to say whether or not Fox Lake Lt. Joe Gliniewicz killed himself.
But considering they called off the manhunt less than 24 hours after the September 1 shooting, it does not appear that they were all too worried about armed cop killers being on the loose.
Nevertheless, Lake County Major Crime Task Force investigators are still clinging to the theory that somebody else may have pulled the trigger.
Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was shot twice with his own weapon, once in the right side front of his protective vest and once in the upper left chest area, the commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said Thursday.
There were indications at the crime scene that a struggle occurred, but test results were inconclusive in determining whether Gliniewicz fired his service weapon, George Filenko said at a morning news conference outside the Fox Lake police station.
“In layman’s terms the weapon could have been fired by Lt. Gliniewicz, or he could have been in close proximity to the weapon being fired,” Filenko said.
Although they are claiming there were signs of a struggle, sources close to the investigation told Fox News two weeks ago that there were no signs of a struggle.
The drama began on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 1 when Gliniewicz radioed in from a remote, marshy area that he was beginning a foot pursuit with three suspects, two white males and one black male. Shortly after that, his radio communication cut off—leaving police with minimal description of the men.
Minutes later, backup officers arrived and discovered Gliniewicz had been shot and killed. An enormous manhunt followed. Police quickly alerted the public to be on the lookout for the three suspects.
Sources tell Fox News two shell casings were found about 100 feet apart from each other near Gliniewicz’s body, which was discovered face down. His hand was in a gun position, the firearm “dropped at his body.”
One bullet hit Gliniewicz in his bulletproof vest. The second and fatal shot struck him underneath his vest, fired in a downward trajectory, near the heart. There was no sign of a struggle or defensive wounds—especially one to save his own life.
Investigators say that Gliniewicz radioed in to dispatch that he was following three suspicious men into the woods, two white males and one black male, before he was found shot to death outside his car with his gun laying next to him.
A nearby surveillance camera also recorded men matching this description, but police say they interviewed the men on video and they are no longer suspects.
In a press conference Thursday, investigators said they are still analyzing DNA samples from the scene, which is why they are still treating the case as a homicide.
But sources close to the investigation have told the Chicago Tribune that it appears he died as a result of suicide.
Also, a retired Chicago cop also began accusing investigators of covering up an act of suicide by treating it as a homicide.
But Joseph Battaglia ended up arrested and jailed on two felony counts of disorderly conduct after police accused him of threatening the coroner if he did not rule it a suicide.
However, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said he was unable to rule out suicide or homicide until police provided him with DNA samples as well as gun residue found on the officer’s body – which investigators refused to do.
Instead, they accused Rudd of hindering their investigation by suggesting to the media that Gliniewicz could have killed himself.
Gliniewicz’s family still believes he was murdered, according to a a recent interview. If his death is ruled a homicide, his family is entitled to receive 100 percent of his salary as part of his pension benefits.