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Hero Down: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard ‘Howie’ Liebengood Takes His Own Life After Riot

Washington, DC – U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Officer Howard “Howie” Liebengood died while off-duty on Saturday, according to his department.

The 51-year-old officer took his own life, two law enforcement officials told The Washington Post.

He was among the many law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, USCP Labor Committee Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a press release on Sunday.

Officer Liebengood served the USCP for nearly 16 years, and was assigned to the Senate Division at the time of his death, the department said in a press release the same day.

He especially enjoyed working at the Russell Senate Office Building’s Delaware entrance, one of his former co-workers told The Washington Post.

“The United States Capitol Police is deeply saddened by the off-duty death on January 9, 2021, of Officer Howard Liebengood,” the USCP said in the press release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.”

Papathanasiou extended his sympathies to Officer Liebengood’s family in the statement he released on Sunday.

“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,” Papathanasiou wrote. “We pay tribute to his service and we grieve for the loss of a fellow officer.”

“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” he continued. “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 USCP. This is a tragic day.”

Former Massachusetts Senator and secretary of state John Kerry said in a tweet that he often saw Officer Liebengood at work at the Russell Building during his final years in office.

“Howie was stationed next to one of our offices in the Russell Building – doors where everyone from school groups to protesters entered/exited,” Kerry wrote. “Howie always had a smile on his face, but he also showed great care for the safety of the young staff who worked behind our office doors.”

He said Officer Liebengood was a “patriot” who spent his career “protecting the halls of democracy.”

President Donald Trump ordered flags be lowered to half-staff on Sunday in honor of Officer Liebengood and fellow USCP Officer Brian Sicknick, The Washington Post reported.

Officer Sicknick, 42, died in the line of duty due to injuries he suffered while “physically engaging with protesters” during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the USCP said in a press release.

Officer Liebengood leaves behind his wife and his siblings, his family’s attorney, Barry Pollack, told The Washington Post.

“He will be sorely missed,” Pollack said in a statement released on behalf of the fallen officer’s family.

Officer Liebengood is the son of former Senate Sergeant at Arms Howard Liebengood, who died of a heart attack in 2005, just two weeks before he planned to retire, according to The Washington Post.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard “Howie” Liebengood, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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