Family, lawmakers remember US Capitol police officer who died by suicide after responding to riot
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The United States Capitol Police officer who took his life following an insurrection by Trump supporters is being remembered by family, lawmakers, and even those who only knew him briefly.
Howard Liebengood, 51, died by suicide Saturday, according to a family spokesman who also confirmed Liebengood was on-duty during Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol.
READ MORE: Capitol police officer dead by suicide after responding to Capitol riot
"His death is a tragedy that has deprived all of us a dedicated public servant. His family has suffered a devastating loss and asks that they be given space to grieve in private," said an emailed statement from family spokesman and attorney Barry Pollack.
Liebengood was a 15-year veteran of Capitol Police assigned to the Senate division.
READ MORE: How were U.S. Capitol Police overrun by pro-Trump rioters?
"During the entire time I’ve been in the Senate his face has been a very, very familiar face actually every morning that I’ve come to work," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told FOX 5 on Monday. "It’s heartbreaking."
For now, there are no details about what Liebengood experienced during the riot.
He was a race car driver before becoming an officer and leaves behind his wife and siblings.
His father and namesake was a former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and lobbyist who died in 2005. Kaine calls Liebengood a son of the Senate.
READ MORE: Capitol Police rejected federal help to quell pro-Trump mob
"My Senate colleague has known Howard since he was a little boy," Kaine said. "You feel like you’ve lost a family member."
Liebengood interacted with countless people who visited the Capitol over the years. A 2008 photo of him with three children of a former Senate staffer has been used by news outlets around the world.
Gabe Ayoud and his sisters, then 8-year-old triplets, are the children in the photo. Ayoud, now a college student, says he was at the Capitol for "Take Your Child To Work Day" and his family was surprised to see the photo on national news.
Sophia Ayoud, 8, gets fingerprinted by Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood as brother Gabriel, 8, and Amina, 8, wait their turns during "Kid Safety Day," held in Dirksen, April 24, 2008. The triplets are children of Laura Ayoud of the Senate Leg
"It’s incredible to me that this photo could just have resurfaced," Ayoud said.
That brief encounter with Liebengood is now etched in history.
"Truthfully, what I remember about him is just he was an extremely kind and a gentle man," Ayoud said.
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He says he thought about that day at the Capitol in 2008 as it was ransacked by a mob on Wednesday.
"It felt like when I was in that room, I had to venerate it and it felt like they were just disrespecting the People’s house," Ayoud said.
Liebengood is the second life lost on the Capitol Police force following the riot. Officer Brian Sicknick suffered injuries during the riot and later died. His cause and manner of death have not yet been released.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (tel:18002738255). Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).