Police may soon have “significant” evidence to announce in this week’s killing of an Illinois police officer, including footage from a home security video system in the area of the shooting, an official said Thursday.
Any video in the area could help authorities determine who shot and killed Fox Lake police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz on Tuesday morning. Until now, police have described the suspects only as two white men and a black man — descriptions of people that Gliniewicz had indicated he’d encountered shortly before the shooting.
A homeowner in Fox Lake, a community of about 10,000 people in northern Illinois, turned over his surveillance video after telling police that he saw three people in the area, Lake County Major Crime Task Force commander George Filenko said.
Local investigators don’t have the proper equipment to see the recording, so the footage was given to a nearby Department of Homeland Security office, and police hope to learn what it shows soon.
Filenko told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that the person who recorded the video said there were two white men and a black man walking past the camera. He said the video was recorded within the area where Gliniewicz was killed.
“Again, we don’t believe in coincidences. However, we still don’t know and I can’t verify exactly whether this video is relevant to the case,” Filenko said. “But at this point it’s probably one of the most significant ones we’ve recovered.”
Meanwhile, a source involved in the investigation told CNN that Gliniewicz’s gun was fired on the morning, though it’s not clear who discharged the weapon.
The gun was recovered at the crime scene, the source said on condition of anonymity.
It’s not clear how Gliniewicz’s gun figures into the killing. Police have declined to answer questions about whose gun was used to kill him.
Filenko wouldn’t confirm that the weapon found was the officer’s gun.
The last day of work
Gliniewicz was on his way to work Tuesday morning, in the cruiser that he had taken home the day before, when he saw three suspicious people, Filenko said earlier this week.
This would not have been unusual as Gliniewicz was the type of officer who considered himself on duty as soon as he rolled into town, Filenko said.
The lieutenant made the first call at 7:52 a.m. and called three minutes later to request backup. The backup units arrived at 8:01 and found their fellow officer dead, roughly 50 yards from his vehicle, at 8:09, Filenko said.
Authorities initially marked off a 2-square-mile area across tricky terrain and brought in helicopters, K-9 units, federal agents, night-vision equipment and body-heat sensors. Police cleared every home in the cordoned-off area and fielded more than 100 tips, Filenko said.
On Wednesday, they widened the search area.
So far, police have found no witnesses.
Besides the home security video that Filenko mentioned Thursday, police say they also have one video from a truck driver who had a camera in his vehicle and was in the area Tuesday.
An autopsy was completed, but authorities aren’t releasing the results yet, Filenko said. The Northern Illinois Police Crime Laboratory is expediting its review of evidence to determine whether there was any fingerprint or DNA transfer.
Filenko said results from the review could come Thursday evening or Friday morning.
The FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined in the hunt. More than 400 law enforcement officers raked through the heavy woods near Fox Lake on foot, all-terrain vehicles and horseback.
Local police officers have volunteered to come in while they’re off duty, and other law enforcement officers in the surrounding area have called to offer their assistance, Filenko said.
Following a false lead
On Wednesday night, an Illinois woman sent 100 officers scrambling after saying she saw two men who fit the description of the cop killers police have been looking for.
But after hours of searching, police said, they discovered she had made the whole story up.
“It’s very disappointing because our resources could have been used somewhere else,” Lake County sheriff’s Detective Christopher Covelli said early Thursday morning.
Kristin B. Kiefer, 30, called police and said she was driving and pulled over near a cornfield because she was having car trouble, Covelli said.
Kiefer told officers a white man and a black man tried to get in her car, Covelli said. She said when she picked up her phone to call police, the two men fled into the cornfield.
More than 100 federal, state and local law enforcement officers descended on the area overnight. Eleven K-9 officers and three aircraft also responded to the tip.
But Kiefer later admitted she fabricated the story because she was looking for attention, Covelli said.
She was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct — one felony, one misdemeanor — due to the false report, the detective said.
CNN affiliate WLS said Kiefer made $100,000 bond and was released Thursday afternoon.
Gliniewicz was a hero to many in Fox Lake. Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night for a vigil to honor the 30-year police veteran. He led the local police explorers’ program, mentoring and training youths interested in becoming officers.
He was a husband and father of four.
“Joe was my best friend and my world. My hero,” Melodie Gliniewicz told more than 1,000 people at the candlelight vigil.
She said her husband was “the love of my life for the last 26½ years. He was my rock as much as I was his rock.”