A US Capitol Police officer, who had been guarding the building since 2005, took his own life on Saturday, days after hundreds of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, smashed the building windows and looted.
Police officer Howard Liebengood, 51, who went by “Howie,” was on duty at the Capitol on Wednesday when the mob entered the premises. A spokesman for his family confirmed on Monday that he died by suicide, Washington Post reported. He is survived by his wife and siblings.
“His death is a tragedy that has deprived all of us a dedicated public servant. His family has suffered a devastating loss and asks that they be given space to grieve in private,” Barry Pollack, a lawyer representing the Liebengood family, said in a statement.
The news of Liebengood’s suicide comes four days after another officer, Brian Sicknick, died of injuries suffered when Trump supporters assaulted the legislative building, bringing to five the number dead from the riot.
The breach of the Capitol building was a stunning assault on American democracy when lawmakers were in the building certifying the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
Sicknick succumbed on Thursday after being taken to hospital following his collapse upon returning to his divisional office, they added.
Metropolitan homicide officials will investigate the death of Sicknick, who joined the U.S. Capitol Police in 2008, along with the Capitol force and its federal partners, police said.
Trump, who initially praised his supporters, later condemned the violence, saying the rioters had defiled the seat of American democracy and must be held accountable. A woman demonstrator was fatally shot by authorities, and three people died from medical emergencies.
After a rally where Trump exhorted his supporters to “fight” to overturn the Nov. 3 election he lost, hundreds of them stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing senators and members of the House of Representatives to evacuate as they smashed windows and looted.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned on Thursday, joining a growing list of aides leaving Trump’s administration in protest at the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
As Democratic leaders demanded his ouster, Trump came closer to a formal concession, acknowledging in a video released on Thursday evening that a “new administration” would be sworn in on Jan. 20 and vowing to ensure a “smooth transition”.