A police officer has become the fifth person to die as a result of the violent insurrection by a pro-Trump mob on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, intensifying pressure on the authorities to explain how they were so unprepared for the mob attack.
Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who joined the Capitol Police in 2008, died on Thursday evening from injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protesters” during Wednesday’s riot. Sicknick initially returned to his division office after the attack but subsequently collapsed, according to a Capitol Police statement issued Thursday night.
“He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners,” the statement reads.
Sicknick is the fifth person to die as a result of the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday. U.S. Air Force veteran and avowed QAnon supporter Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during the attack, while three other rioters died as a result of “medical emergencies” linked to the breach.
Police on Thursday identified the three people as Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Ga.; Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Ala.; and Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pa.
The news of Sicknick’s passing came hours after U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund announced he would resign on Jan. 17 after exhausting all his available sick leave, just three days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in Washington DC.
However, Sund defended his department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying officers had “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser however disagreed, called the police response “a failure.”
Sund’s resignation was part of a wider reckoning among those charged with protecting the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately while Paul Irving, the longtime Sergeant at Arms of the House, also resigned.
Questions are being raised about why authorities were not better prepared given that many experts have been flagging the possibility of violent insurrection on Jan. 6 for weeks, based on widespread online chatter.
But on Thursday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said a breach of the Capitol was not in his “wildest imagination, while DC Police Chief Robert Contee III said: “There was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the U.S. Capitol.”
Also on Thursday, hours after the ransacking of the Capitol had finished, the military began erecting a seven-foot-tall “nonscalable” fence around the entire Capitol. McCarthy said the fence would remain in place for at least 30 days.