(CNN) — Three suspects remain on the lam, and while authorities continue to look for them in connection with a Fox Lake, Illinois, policeman’s death, the search has been called off in the immediate area where Lt. Joe Gliniewicz was slain, police said Wednesday.
This, after investigators marked off a 2-square-mile area across tricky terrain and brought in helicopters, canine units, federal agents, night-vision equipment and body heat sensors. Police cleared every home in the cordoned-off area, while fielding more than 100 tips, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko told CNN.
The tips are arriving via phone calls and social media from all over the nation, and from as far away as England and Australia, he said, encouraging the public to continue reporting anything suspicious.
“As always, we’re relying on the public,” he said. “All it takes is one tip or good lead to break a case wide open.”
Local authorities are also in talks with the federal government about a potential reward for information leading to the arrests of Gliniewicz’s killers, Filenko said.
The suspects — two white men and one black man — may have left town, or even the state, Filenko said. Their races were the only description gleaned from the “initial radio traffic” between Gliniewicz and dispatchers, he said. Police have no evidence suggesting the suspects are still in the area or traveling together.
Police are canvassing the area and conducting “saturation patrols” in an effort to continue the search and follow up on new leads, Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Christopher Covelli told reporters.
“We’re going to go hand in hand with the residents of Fox Lake to ensure their safety at this time,” he said.
Troublesome search, terrain
So far, police have found no witnesses, but they recovered surveillance tape from businesses and residences in the area. The quality of the video is not promising, but investigators were going through it Wednesday afternoon, Filenko said.
Hampering the search was the landscape where the manhunt unfolded. It’s a mix of abandoned buildings, occupied by squatters, and residential and commercial properties situated among heavily wooded areas and a marsh. Some of the terrain is overgrown and swampy, and railroad tracks run through a portion of the area. Tuesday’s intense sun didn’t help matters.
Gliniewicz, a 32-year police veteran, was on patrol Tuesday morning when he made a radio call saying he was running after three suspicious people, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.
That was the last anyone heard from him. Fellow officers from Fox Lake Police Department arrived to find their colleague shot to death.
No one knows why Gliniewicz was gunned down, except for his killer.
An autopsy was completed late Tuesday, but authorities aren’t releasing the results yet, Filenko said. The Northern Illinois Police Crime Laboratory is expediting its review of evidence to determine if there was any fingerprint or DNA transfer. Technicians should have that analysis finished within a “day or so,” he said.
A challenging search
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.
Officers were also conducting a secondary review of the crime scene, “turning over every leaf and blade of grass to see if there’s anything out there they may have missed,” he said.
Authorities have employed 45 dogs in their search, along with six aircraft, Covelli said. Nearby residents saw SWAT teams searching yards, CNN affiliate WLS said. Officers also went house to house looking for clues.
“I hope they catch them soon,” neighbor Brenda Day said, “because I’m a single mom of three, and I’m scared.”
School officials were anxious, too. Several Illinois school districts, including Fox Lake, Gavin and Big Hollow, were closed Wednesday, the Grant Community High School website said.
Asked if he had a deadline for calling off the search, Filenko seemed to bristle at the question and responded, “I’m not going to set a time limit on this. I have a murdered colleague. … We’re not going to stop.”
More than an officer
Gliniewicz’s passion for police work went far beyond what he was paid to do.
He helped lead the Fox Lake Police Department Explorer Post, which mentors young people interested in careers in law enforcement, WLS said.
Gliniewicz, known as “G.I. Joe,” was supposed to retire at the end of this month. The day before he was killed, Gliniewicz met with the mayor to discuss his retirement plans and to make sure the Explorer program continued without him, according to WLS.
“He loved his community and loved his job, and he will be very sorely missed in this community,” Grant Township supervisor Catherine “Kay” Starostovic said.
Gliniewicz was also an Army veteran who served in active duty and reserve from 1980 to 2007. He left the military with the rank of first sergeant.
The lieutenant is survived by a wife and four children.
His death marks the 26th time an officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty this year. Just last week, a sheriff’s deputy in Houston was gunned down in an ambush attack.
“It is a very tough time to be a police officer at this moment,” CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander said. “However, these men and women that are out there doing this job, they’re not going to stop doing it.”
A vigil for Gliniewicz is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Lake’s Lakefront Park.