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Northern Illinois police officer is shot and killed; manhunt is underway

Law enforcement officers scan a swampy area in Fox Lake where a manhunt was launched after an officer was fatally shot Sept. 1, 2015.

Law enforcement officers scan a swampy area in Fox Lake where a manhunt was launched after an officer was fatally shot Sept. 1, 2015.

(Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Tribune

A massive manhunt using helicopters and camouflaged officers with high-powered guns continued Tuesday afternoon in Lake County, Ill. after a police officer was shot and killed while chasing three suspects, authorities said.

The Fox Lake officer, who has not been identified, radioed shortly before 8 a.m. that while on routine patrol he was going to check on some suspicious activity, Lake County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Chris Covelli said during a news conference.

He then radioed he was in a “foot pursuit” but communication was lost after that, Covelli said. Other officers responded and found him shot near Route 12 and Sayton Road, he said.

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The officer was discovered in a marshy area, stripped of his gun and other gear, according to Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose. He died at the scene, the undersheriff said.

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Police established a perimeter and sent helicopters into the air as they sought three male suspects, Rose said. Several canine units were also dispatched, as well as SWAT teams in camouflage.

With the help of U.S. marshals, teams of police from throughout the county were searching woods and businesses throughout the area.

Jill Heyn and Brad Pekarik live in Ingleside, minutes from where the shooting occurred. The couple said they heard helicopters all morning as the search intensified and saw officers walking around Gavin Middle School down the block.

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“My neighbor came out hysterical,” Pekarik said.

“Until now, we thought we were in Mayberry,” Heyn said.

“It’s not a good thing. Everybody’s a little crazy these days,” her husband said.

“Just feels like our paradise has been spoiled,” his wife added.

Michael Drewer, 35, of Fox Lake, owner of the Dipstick Oil Change, now surrounded by yellow police tape, said there were a half a dozen officers blocking off roads at Sayton and Route 12 when he arrived at work in the morning.

“Then a half-hour later, [the number of police] ballooned quite a bit,” he said. “They checked our security video and then told me I wouldn’t be doing any business today.”

Covelli said the suspects should be considered dangerous and advised residents to stay indoors if possible.

Rose advised residents to call 911 “if they see anybody in their area … that doesn’t belong or doesn’t look right.”

The search prompted officials at Grant Community High School to put the building on lockdown.

“Grant Community High School is currently in a lockdown at the request of the Fox Lake Police Department,” read a statement posted at grantbulldogs.org. “A police matter is occurring in the community and for the safety of our students and staff they have requested we remain locked down.”

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