Manhunt underway as US police officer shot dead

Lieutenant Charles Joseph Gliniewicz
Lieutenant Charles Joseph Gliniewicz

Police in helicopters, with dogs and armed with rifles were conducting a massive manhunt in northern Illinois after an officer was fatally shot while pursuing a group of men.

An emotional Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit described the dead officer, Lieutenant Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, as a personal friend, a three-decade member of the department and a father of four sons.

"We lost a family member," Mr Schmit said of the 52-year-old officer known around town as "GI Joe".

He added: ''His commitment to the people of this community has been unmatched and will be dearly missed."

Police said Lt Gliniewicz radioed in to tell dispatchers he was chasing three men on foot in the village of Fox Lake, 55 miles north of Chicago.

Communication with him was lost soon after, said Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sergeant Christopher Covelli.

"His back-up arrived shortly thereafter and found him injured with a gunshot wound," Sgt Covelli said. "The officer has succumbed to his injuries and passed away."

Undersheriff Raymond Rose told the Chicago Tribune that the officer had also been stripped of his gun and other equipment.

Less than an hour's drive from Chicago, the area is popular with boaters and for other outdoor pursuits because of its forests and a chain of lakes that partly encircles Fox Lake.

Police and other law enforcement officials, some of them in military-style camouflage, were seen taking up positions on rooftops and along railway tracks, scanning the terrain with rifle scopes and binoculars. Others leaned out of helicopters with weapons at the ready.

Nearby Grant Community High School was placed on lockdown with children and staff instructed to say hidden and away from windows, and Mr Schmit said that other schools were also put on lockdown, as staffers went from room to room to make sure the children were safe.

The authorities urged residents throughout the area to stay home while they conducted the search for three men, using bloodhounds on the ground and helicopters above.

The service of a local commuter train was halted and residents who wanted to take their dogs out to relieve themselves were told to stay in their homes - with the job of walking the dogs handled by police officers.

Lt Gliniewicz's death is the third law enforcement fatality in Illinois this year, according to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.