A Capitol police officer reportedly died by suicide on Saturday, three days after his team was thrown in action during the DC riots that killed five people including another member of his department. Howard Charles Liebengood, 51, was assigned to the Senate Division and had been with the Capitol Police since April 2005.
However, the department tasked with protecting the federal property in Washington did not reveal the cause of Liebengood's. Also, no details about the circumstances of his death have been shared by the authorities. Liebengood is the second Capitol Police officer to die within three days after Trump supporters stormed the building in an attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden's election victory.
Liebengood's death has not only shocked but also left many surprised, including his department. Although the exact cause of death hasn't been revealed, sources described it as apparent suicide. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues," the Capitol Police said in a statement. "We ask that his family and other USCP officers' and their families' privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time."
An investigation has been launched into his death given that it comes within three days after Trump supporters stormed into the Capitol building in a partially effort to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College votes and certifying Biden as the new president.
Liebengood was on duty during the riot on that night, per a statement from the Capitol Police Officers' Union, though it was not immediately clear if his death was linked to the riot. Liebengood is the second Capitol Police officer to die in the days after the DC riots. The other officer, Brian Sicknick, had died on Thursday after reportedly having been hit over the head by a fire extinguisher during the riots.
Liebengood had joined the USCP in 2005 and was assigned to Senate Division. He was the son of former top Senate aide Howard S Liebengood, who was deputed as the Sergeant of Arms at the Capitol from 1981 to 1983 and died of a heart attack aged 62 in 2005.
The USCP itself is under intense scrutiny for the ease with which the mob overwhelmed Capitol Police and forced their way into the seat of American democracy. This also led to the resignation of Chief Steven Sund from the force.
Three days after the riots, Trump surprisingly in a bid to do damage control ordered US flags at the White House and other public property to fly at half-staff through Jan. 13 "as a sign of respect for the service and sacrifice" of Sicknick and Liebengood. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi also released a statement with condolences on behalf of the House of Representatives.