Capitol Police officer who responded to Wednesday riot dies while off duty

Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI

Jan. 11 (UPI) — A Capitol Police officer who responded to the siege on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, died while off duty on Saturday, the U.S. Capitol Police said.

Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, who was assigned to the Senate Division and had been with the department since April 2005, died while off duty three days after the riot that saw supporters of the president make their way inside the Capitol building as Congress was certifying the results of November’s presidential election.

The cause of Liebengood’s death was not immediately released; however, it was later reported that he died by suicide.

“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” Gus Papathanasiou, the chairman of Liebengood’s police union, said. “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.”

Liebengood was a constituent of Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., who mourned his death online.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn about the death of USCP Officer Howard Liebengood,” she said via Twitter. “My heart breaks for his family, his loved ones & our community.”

John Kerry, former secretary of state and former Democratic senator for Massachusetts, called the deaths of the two officers “a tragic loss,” stating he was familiar with Liebengood from his time at the Capitol.

“Howie always had a smile on his face, but he also showed great care for the safety of the young staff who worked behind our office doors,” he said in a statement. “A tragic loss of two patriots who spent their careers protecting the halls of democracy.”

The White House lowered its flags to half-staff on Sunday following the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries while responding to the mob on Sunday.

One woman, identified as Ashli Babbit, was also shot and killed by authorities at the Capitol during the riot. Three others identified as Rosanne Boyland, Benjamin Philip and Kevin Greeson also died due to medical emergencies on Capitol grounds.

In the aftermath of the riot, dozens of people have been charged with crimes and the FBI has released a slew of photos seeking the public’s help in identifying those involved in breaching the Capitol building.

Late Sunday, the Justice Department announced two men seen in photos of the Capitol building siege wearing tactical and paramilitary gear and holding zip tie restraints known as flex cuffs have been arrested.

In a statement, federal prosecutors said Larry Rendell Brock, of Texas, was arrested Sunday in his home state and charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Brock was seen in photos wearing green tactical gear and holding white zip tie restraints in the Senate chamber, and was identified last week by The New Yorker, who said he was a retired lieutenant general of the Air Force.

Munchel was arrested in Tennessee on Sunday and charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Munchel was also seen in photographs in the Senate chambers, wearing black tactical gear and holding several zip tie restraints. He also had “an item in a holster on his right hip” and a cellphone mounted to his chest with the camera facing outward,” the Justice Department said.

At least 25 domestic terrorism cases have been opened, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said in a summary of a conversation he had with Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.

The summary states that weapons, explosives and zip ties recovered by authorities at the scene “suggests a great disaster was narrowly averted,” and that the Department of Defense “is aware of further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day.”

Capitol Police on Sunday also named Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman as the department’s acting chief after its former head, Steven Sund, offered to step down on Thursday.

The police department’s website states Pittman was named acting chief by the Capitol Police Board on Friday.

Her alma mater Morgan State University, which she graduated from in 1999, said in a statement that she is the first woman and first Black person to hold the position.

Sund resigned last week amid calls for him to do so over the failure to prevent Trump’s supporters from entering the Capitol building.


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