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Slain Fox Lake lieutenant 'showed what the blue line really was'

Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, also known as "G.I. Joe," was fatally shot Tuesday morning while trying to catch three male subjects, authorities said. | Provided photo

When 17-year-old Devin Arbay first heard that his school was on lockdown, he texted the one person he looked up to the most for information — his lead adviser in the Fox Lake police explorers’ program, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.

That text was sent about 8:30 a.m. Arbay, captain of the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300, would text Gliniewicz two more times.

“At 3:20 p.m. I sent him a text and I said, ‘Is everything OK?” Arbay said. “When he didn’t respond the third time, that’s when I knew something was wrong.”

Gliniewicz, 52, was a “cop’s cop,” Arbay said. “This man devoted his life to police work and this program.”

The explorers met once a week and Gliniewicz was their “fearless leader,” Arbay said. He loved kids and leaves behind four of his own boys, including one who is in the U.S. Army, he said.

“He was never afraid to take the initiative,” Arbay said. “He was always enthusiastic.”

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Arbay spoke to Gliniewicz on the phone Monday night about inventory for the program, not knowing it would be their last conversation.

“This is an absolutely huge loss for the community, the state and the whole nation,” Arbay said.

An Army veteran with the nickname “G.I. Joe,” the Fox Lake police lieutenant had worked for 32 years on the police force, said Terry Resetar, his mother-in-law.

But he was getting ready to retire from a job that had been a cherished part of his life.

“Oh God, he loved it,” Resetar said.

Gliniewicz taught young men and women who yearned to be police officers that you have to put others before yourself.

“He put his guys first all the time, no matter what,” said Kevin Harkin, 22, of Round Lake. Harkin, now a security guard, was in the explorers program from 2007 until 2012.

“He was very fair. He was stern when he had to be,” Harkin said. “I don’t think there was a mean bone in that man’s body.”

And his love of the job was evident.

“I think you could just kind of see it,” Harkin said. “The professionalism he showed through handling everything, it’s something that can’t be measured.”

Harkin said he’s not surprised that the lieutenant was on the streets, trying to catch three male subjects when he was fatally shot Tuesday morning.

“Unfortunately, he died doing what he loved. I’m very surprised that happened to him, but I’m not surprised he was out working the road. . . . He truly showed what the blue line really was.”

The lieutenant was remembered as a generous man who helped anyone he encountered, even in a muddy race course in South Carolina, where he participated in obstacle races that harkened back to his military training.

In 2013, Tony Ferrante and a paraplegic friend were participating in an obstacle course race but were struggling. It was cold, dark and muddy.

Then the lieutenant and his oldest son came along.

“They jumped in with us and helped us,” said Ferrante, 52, of Georgia.

And Ferrante’s friend ended up finishing the Spartan Beast, a feat for a paraplegic athlete, he said.

“Joe was just a stranger. He and his son saw a need and they filled that need,” Ferrante said.

“Joe is a hero. He deserved better,” Ferrante said.

Many others who knew Gliniewicz are remembering his acts of kindness. Terrence Rogan, a retired Illinois National guardsman, lived in Fox Lake for about 18 years before retiring to Florida.

He remembers Gliniewicz well. He’s one of two police officers who always stopped by his house to chat. And when they learned he would be sent to Operation Desert Storm as a flight commander, they stopped by.

“They came by emphatically to let me know they had my back. He told me not to worry about anything at my house. They said they’re going to come by my house all the time when I’m gone,” said Rogan, 66.

“He was just a good guy,” Rogan said.