Death of Capitol Police Officer 3 Days After Riots Was by Suicide, Family Says

KC Baker
·4 min read

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images Howard Liebengood

Howard Liebengood, a United States Capitol Police officer who responded to Wednesday's violent riots in Washington D.C., died by suicide, a family spokesman said Monday.

"His death is a tragedy that has deprived all of us a dedicated public servant," Barry Pollack, a lawyer representing the Liebengood family, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "His family has suffered a devastating loss and asks that they be given space to grieve in private."

Liebengood leaves behind his wife and siblings, Pollack said.

On Sunday morning, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) confirmed the death of the 15-year veteran of its force in a statement, but did not disclose his cause of death.

"The United States Capitol Police is deeply saddened by the off-duty death on January 9, 2021, of Officer Howard Liebengood, age 51," the statement reads. "He was assigned to the Senate Division, and has been with the Department since April 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues. We ask that his family, and other USCP officers' and their families' privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time."

According to the USCP union, Liebengood joined the law enforcement agency in 2005 and was assigned to the Senate Division.

He was among the officers who responded to the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to Officer Liebengood's family and we mourn the death of a friend and colleague who worked alongside us to protect the lives of the Members of Congress, their staff and all who serve at the U.S. Capitol," the union's statement read.

"We pay tribute to his service and we grieve for the loss of a fellow officer," the statement added.

The USCP has not responded to PEOPLE's request for additional information.

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Liebengood's father, Howard S. Liebengood Sr., was a former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, who oversaw the officers who protected the Senate from 1981 to 1983, The Washington Post reports.

He later worked as chief of staff for Sen. Fred D. Thompson and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He died in 2005.

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Bill Beck, 80, who was a friend of Liebengood's father, told The Washington Post hat he new Liebengood Jr. "his whole life. He was a good human being. It's tragic."

Liebengood is the second officer to die after the Capitol riot, in which a large group of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building as lawmakers gathered to certify Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

Officer Brian D. Sicknick, 42, died at 9:30 p.m. Thursday from injuries he sustained "while physically engaging with protesters" during the rampage, the USCP said in a previous statement.

USCP Officer Brian D. Sicknick

"He was a great guy to work with," a colleague of Sicknick, who did not wish to be identified, told PEOPLE. "You knew you could count on him to do his job and be right there when you needed him. He believed in this country and he believed in all of us [who worked with him]."

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Four others also died during the riots: Ashli Babbitt, 35, was fatally shot by an officer who was confronting rioters as they stormed into the building, according to police, while Rosanne Boyland, 34, Kevin Greeson, 55, and Benjamin Phillips, 50, all died from "medical emergencies."

According to the Capitol Police, over 50 officers from the department and Metropolitan Police Department sustained injuries, while several requiring hospitalization.

"The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.," Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned from his post on Thursday, said in a previous statement. "Make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.