US Capitol Police on Sunday announced the death of one of its officers, bringing the number of deaths in the unit since Wednesday’s violent Capitol siege to two.
Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, died on Saturday when he was off duty, the USCP said in a statement. The department said he joined the Capitol Police in 2005.
According to the USCP union, Liebengood was among those who responded to the violence at the Capitol.
“We pay tribute to his service and we grieve the loss of a fellow officer,” the union said.
Multiple outlets reported that Liebengood died by suicide; those reports were backed by a social media post from another USCP officer.
The USCP has been reeling since outgoing President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to lay siege to the Capitol on Wednesday to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes, which Trump lost.
Video captured during the siege shows some officers being overwhelmed by waves of rioters, many of whom were armed. Other officers appeared to put up little resistance, and some even posed for selfies with the insurrectionists.
One other Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died Thursday after rioters hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher during the siege. The FBI said it had deactivated two improvised explosive devices placed near the Capitol as rioters stormed Congress.
Capitol Police leadership has been widely condemned for the department’s lax response — and apparent occasional outright complicity — during the attack. The department’s Chief of Police Stephen Sund resigned Thursday after being denounced by the officers’ union, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a host of other officials.
“Without a change at the top, we may see more events unfold like those we saw on January 6th,” Gus Papathanasiou, the chairman of the Captiol Police union, said in a statement.
“There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” said Pelosi, who noted on Thursday that Sund had not been in touch with congressional leaders to discuss the violence.
In an article published Saturday, BuzzFeed’s Emmanuel Felton quoted Black Capitol Police officers who were on the scene during the attack saying that Sund and USCP leadership deserted them during the siege.
Never miss a thing. Sign up to HuffPost Australia’s weekly newsletter for the latest news, exclusives and guides to achieving the good life.