A 15-year veteran of the Capitol Police who faced down the violent pro-Trump mob of insurgents on Capitol Hill last Wednesday has died off-duty.
While officials have not publicly confirmed the cause of Howard “Howie” Liebengood’s death, sources speaking to multiple media outlets — including the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun — said that he had ended his life.
The United State Capitol Police (USCP) announced the news of Liebengood’s death in a press release issued on Sunday.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues,” the statement read. “We ask that his family and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time.”
Liebengood, who was previously a professional racing car driver, joined the USCP in 2005 and served on the Senate Division. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Howard S. Liebengood, who was the Sergeant of Arms at the Capitol, and who died in 2005.
Liebengood, who died on Saturday, is survived by his wife.
“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” Gus Papathanasiou, head of the Capitol Police union, said in a statement. “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 the USCP. This is a tragic day.”
The 51-year-old is the second Capitol Police officer to lose his life in recent days after 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.
Over the weekend, new footage of the riot on Capitol Hill emerged showing rioters viciously dragging a police officer down a staircase before beating him with objects including flag poles.
The flags over the White House were lowered to half-mast late on Sunday evening as a mark of respect for the two officers who lost their lives but only after 24 hours of media pressure to do so.
Tributes from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle flooded in on Sunday evening as news of Liebengood’s passing spread.
“Officer Liebengood was a patriot who dedicated his life to defending the Capitol and protecting all who serve, work in and visit this temple of our Democracy,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “His passing is a great tragedy that compounds the horror of this past week.
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