A Capitol police officer who responded to the riot last week led by supporters of President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., died off-duty on Saturday, the United States Capitol Police confirmed.
Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, was part of the response as the pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building, according to a statement Sunday from his police union. Liebengood, who joined the USCP in 2005, died while off-duty and his cause of death has not been disclosed.
“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” Gus Papathanasiou, the union chairman, said Sunday. “Every Capitol Police Officer puts the security of others before their own safety and Officer Liebengood was an example of the selfless service that is the hallmark of USCP. This is a tragic day.”
Bipartisan tributes to Liebengood — including from former vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Ca. — were shared on social media Sunday shortly after his death was announced.
“For nearly 16 years, Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood honorably carried out his duty of protecting the halls of Congress,” McCarthy wrote. “Judy and I are praying for Howard’s family and the entire Capitol Hill community as we grieve the loss of a great man.”
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues," USCP said while announcing Liebengood's death. "We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time."
Liebengood’s death follows that of fellow officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died Thursday due to injuries sustained in the riot. Papathanasiou noted that the department also lost a third officer, Eric Marshall, on January 2 following a battle with cancer.
"Their lives and service will not be forgotten," Papathanasiou said.
The White House lowered the American flag to half-staff Sunday, and ordered flags lowered at all public and military facilities nationwide, in honor of Liebengood and Sicknick.
CORRECTION (Jan. 10, 2021, 7:40 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misidentified the state House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy represents. He is a Republican from California, not Arizona.