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Local News

Despite false tip, extreme heat officers remain dedicated to search

FOX LAKE – As the search for the three men involved in the shooting death of Lt. "G.I. Joe" Gliniewicz entered into a third day, police remain determined, focused, and a bit frustrated.

A false report late Wednesday night brought law enforcement to the Lakemoor and Volo area. Kristin B. Kiefer, 30, falsely claimed that two men, one white and one black, tried to get into her locked car about 5 miles south of where the shooting took place, police said.

Kiefer made the claim, according to investigators, because she wanted attention from the couple for which she nannied.

"When we get an issue like this, it's all hands on deck," said Lake County Sheriff's Det. Chris Covelli. "All these [officers] that were going to be rotated out so people can get rest are now in the active mix, which is totally fine if it's a legitimate tip. This wasn't."

The three men – two white and one black man – remain on the loose as authorities carried the search into a third day. The men are accused of shooting and killing Lt. Gliniewicz on Tuesday after a foot chase. Gliniewicz radioed that he was investigating "suspicious activity." He called for back up, and minutes later was found unresponsive in a swampy area about 50 yards from his vehicle.

"Everyone is still very focused and very driven," Covelli said. "It's obviously frustrating what happened [Wednesday] night. But that's not going to change our mentality and how we're going to approach this.

"It's all hands on deck."

Covelli said Kiefer's call seemed legitimate at first, so it sparked an intense overnight search. There were 140 officers from 22 different agencies assisting with foot patrols, air units and K-9s.

As that hours-long search continued, police scanner traffic was moving at a frantic pace. Residents continued calling in tips through the night, tips that led nowhere. A neighbor reported seeing men in black hoods running through the neighborhood. A report of a man urinating on a squad car turned out to be false. Police aircraft units using heat sensors, pointed officers to what ended up being a deer. Once, the heat sensors reported a hot spot lying in the weeds. When officers searched that area, they determined the heat was coming from an electrical box.

Still, despite Wednesday's events, Covelli is welcoming tips from the public, which investigators are vetting and combing through.

"They need to be valid tips and legitimate and authentic tips," Covelli said. "This was completely fabricated and a complete waste of our resources, which taxed us incredibly."

Despite Wednesday's setback, officers remain dedicated to the search efforts.

"Not only are we investigating a homicide, we're investigating the homicide of a police officer," Covelli said. "That makes everyone that much more determined."

That sentiment was echoed in Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko's afternoon press conference.

"I think the most difficulty I've had is telling [officers] to go home," he said. "They want to be here, they want to be here 24 hours a day until this is resolved."

But for the safety of the officers and the K9 units deployed for the search, it's important to rotate shifts, Covelli said. Temperatures Thursday climbed to nearly 90 degrees, with the heat index making it feel more like the mid-90s, National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss said.

“It's brutal. These guys have their whole body armor on,” Fox Lake Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Tom Preidis said. “Their core temperature is rising above normal to 100 degrees or better. And down in that swamp, there's no breeze. It's just heat.”

Forty officers suffered heat exhaustion Tuesday as they searched the woods and swamps in full gear, Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said.

Preidis said the Fox Lake Fire Department, as well as the Rehab North unit based out of the Richmond Township Fire Protection District, partners with the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, the Salvation Army and countless others set up tents filled with food, water, fans and medical supplies.

Richmond Township Fire Protection District Lt. Chris Gumm said about a dozen volunteers from the rehab unit spent more than 11 hours helping officers. The unit typically responds to fires in the northern half of McHenry County, but responded Tuesday without question.

“This was the first time they were requested for a non-fire emergency,” Gumm said.

The SWAT teams also brought three doctors, and a mobile veterinary unit also was on scene to replenish human and canine officers using IVs, Preidis said.

As about 100 officers continue their search, the Fox Lake Police Department has been flooded with donations of water and other supplies in the past few days, dispatchers said. On Wednesday, residents streamed in carrying cases of bottled water.

• Reporter Katie Dahlstrom contributed to this report

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