Investigators Blast Coroner's Comments in Probe of Illinois Cop's Killing

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By Phil Helsel

Investigators looking for three people of interest in the killing of an Illinois police officer sharply criticized a local coroner on Thursday for releasing details about his death to the media.

"It could jeopardize our entire case down the road," Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko told reporters Thursday night, hours after the Lake County Sheriff’s Office called the coroner’s published comments "irresponsible."

Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was found shot to death after radioing dispatch that he was pursuing three suspicious men near an old cement plant at around 8 a.m. on Sept. 1.

Few details about the killing have been released by police. On Wednesday, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd told NBC Chicago that Gliniewicz died from "a single devastating gunshot wound."

Rudd also told the station that while he was assuming the cause of death was homicide, without more information from police, "I can’t rule out a suicide, I can’t rule out an accident, and I can’t rule in a homicide."

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Filenko said investigators are treating the case as a homicide investigation, and are looking for three people in connection with Gliniewicz’s death.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Thursday that evidence indicates that more than one shot was fired, but did not elaborate. "Transferred DNA" was also found at the scene, Filenko said.

Gliniewicz said on radio transmissions that he was checking out three suspicious men, two white and one black, before he was found fatally wounded, officials have said. Investigators spoke with Gliniewicz’s wife Thursday to update her on the investigation.

Thursday's police statement comes a day after Rudd told NBC Chicago that he didn't have enough information from investigators to definitively rule the death a homicide.