A United States Capitol Police officer died Thursday evening of injuries sustained “while physically engaging” with a pro-Trump mob that descended on the United States Capitol the day before, the fifth death linked to the chaos which engulfed the country’s capital on Wednesday, according to the authorities.
The officer, Brian D. Sicknick, died around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Capitol Police said in a statement. He had been at the agency since 2008.
The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately clear, and Capitol Police only said he “died from injuries sustained in the line of duty.”
At one point in the turmoil – with the mob rampaging through the chambers of Congress as lawmakers were forced to hide under their desks – Mr Sicknick was struck by a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials.
“He returned to his division’s office and collapsed,” Capitol Police said in the statement. “He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.”
The homicidal arm of the Washington Police Department is one of several law enforcement agencies involved in an investigation into his death and the general circumstances of the violence on Capitol Hill.
Mr Sicknick’s death brings the death toll from Wednesday’s chaos to five. A participant in the pro-Trump rampage, Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer inside the building as she walked through a shattered window leading to the President’s Lobby. Three other people have died after suffering what is believed to be medical emergencies in the area around the Capitol, police said.
The loss of life highlighted the inability of law enforcement to prevent the siege of Capitol Hill by a gang of Trump supporters, prompted by the president’s own words.
Lawmakers from both chambers and both sides vowed to find out how Capitol Hill security officials allowed a violent mob to infiltrate the building. House Democrats have announced a “robust” investigation into the collapse of law enforcement.
Three of the most senior congressional security officials – Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund, Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger – announced their resignations Thursday .
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Sergeants-at-Arms are responsible for security in rooms and related office buildings, while Sund has supervised around 2,000 Capitol Police personnel – a force larger than that in many small towns.
Early Friday, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, a Democrat who heads the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, expressed his sadness in a Twitter message on the death of Mr. Sicknick.
“This tragic loss is a reminder of the bravery of the law enforcement agencies who protect us every day,” Mr. Ryan wrote.
Dozens of police and emergency response personnel marched through the streets of the Capitol during a moment of silence to honor Mr Sicknick on Thursday night. They lined up on Constitution and 3rd Streets, silently saluting as a police motorcade for Mr Sicknick passed through town, according to videos from local reporters at the scene.
Police said in their own statement that “the entire USCP department expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Constable Sicknick for their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague” .
Officials said around 50 policemen were injured as crowds swarmed barricades, threw objects, banged doors, smashed windows and overwhelmed some of the policemen who tried to resist the advancing crowd.
Capitol Police reported 14 arrests during the incursion, including two people accused of assaulting a police officer. Local police arrested dozens more, mostly in connection with an illegal entry and violations of the city’s Wednesday night curfew.
Emily cochrane and Katie benner contribution to reports.