Ill. Trooper is Found Dead Near Tollway
Officer Down: Doug Whitmore - [Alsip, Illinois]
|State police call shooting accidental|
By H. Gregory Meyer, The Chicago Tribune
A 25-year veteran state trooper was found dead beside his unmarked squad car Sunday morning with a bullet wound from his service weapon, Illinois State Police said.
Master Sgt. Jeffrey R. Vlcek, 50, of the 1100 block of Nevada Street in Glenwood, was found by a fellow trooper just before 10 a.m. at an Alsip tollway maintenance station that doubles as an office and pit stop for state troopers, police said. Though not ruling out suicide, police Sunday were calling his death an accident.
"The weapon was used, it was his service weapon and there was only one shot fired, so we're sort of going on the assumption at this point that the gunshot was an accidental shooting that took place right here," said Master Sgt. Lincoln Hampton at a news conference Sunday.
Dump trucks were parked around the scene of the shooting as state police investigated Vlcek's death. He started his shift as a tollway patrol supervisor at 7 a.m., Hampton said.
An off-duty trooper drove to the maintenance yard, wedged between the ramps where the Tri-State Tollway intersects with Cicero Avenue in Alsip, and found the body lying next to the car outside a large shed, Hampton said.
Vlcek was pronounced dead at the scene, Hampton said.
Hampton said investigators spoke to the off-duty trooper and other workers who may have been on the site.
Vlcek was married and a father, Hampton said. He said the trooper was not under investigation by state police and had no problems with his employer.
"He was a very nice man. Well-liked," Hampton said.
Vlcek's family declined to comment when reached by phone Sunday evening.
Trooper Doug Whitmore of the State Police District 15, which patrols the tollways, said Vlcek's long law-enforcement career included about four years on the department's gang unit and more as an investigator.
"He was a very good guy. Very personable," said Whitmore, who used to report to Vlcek.
Hampton would not provide details on the location of the bullet wound, and officials of the Cook County medical examiner's office said details would be available after an autopsy Monday.