First Responders

Since the Capitol Siege, Acts of Heroism and Tragedy Continue To Be Revealed

January 12, 2021Joshua Skovlund
police response Capitol building

Police clashed with supporters of President Donald Trump outside the Capitol before the protesters breached the police line and then stormed the building during the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. Jan. 6. Photo by Joseph Andrew Lee/Coffee or Die Magazine.

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, heroes often rise to the top.

On Wednesday, a contingent of President Donald Trump’s supporters attended a rally in the nations capital, and many went on to break into the Capitol building, overcoming law enforcement tasked with protecting it, and delayed Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. Thanks to the law enforcement who regained control of the Capitol and cleared out the rioters, and despite a delay of several hours, Congress resumed its session later that evening, certifying Biden’s win early Thursday morning.

Stories of heroism and tragedy have exploded in the aftermath of the Capitol siege; Coffee or Die Magazine has compiled some of them here. 

A US Capitol Police officer, identified as Eugene Goodman by CNN reporter Kristin Wilson, single-handedly led a mob of Capitol building breachers away from the Senate chamber and to his backup, and it was all captured on video by Huffington Post journalist Igor Bobic. 

The video shows Goodman confronting the mob at the door with his hand on what appears to be his service pistol. The mob aggressively proceeds toward him, and he backs away and picks up a baton that was on the floor. He then proceeds to draw a group of rioters away from the Senate chamber, which was not yet secure. 

Goodman led the mob up two flights of stairs and then down a hallway where three more officers join him and start ordering the mob outside. The video cuts off shortly after Goodman is reinforced. He has been celebrated for his heroism in leading the rioters away from the Senate chambers, saving senators, staff, and reporters. 

The Washington Post acquired a video from the Capitol building siege in which a group of Trump supporters can be seen from a distance crawling through windows into the Capitol as others fight with police at one of the Capitol entrances. 

Shortly after the video begins, there appears to be a police officer in riot gear dragged into the mob, where people begin to punch and kick him. While the mob is attacking, one of them appears to strike the downed officer with an American flag repeatedly. In the video, a man can be heard shouting, “Get that motherfucker out of there” and “take him out.” In a separate video of the same incident, another voice can be heard yelling, “Don’t hurt him, he’s a police officer,” and the footage shows that separate members of the mob pulled the officer away from those who were beating him and encircled him. The video cuts away with the officer surrounded by the mob; he appears to be held up by them. 

It is unclear what happened to the downed officer after the video ends. More than 50 officers from the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department were injured that day, and five people have died as a result of the siege and demonstrations. One was identified as USCP Officer Brian Sicknick, both a military and law enforcement veteran, who died after sustaining injuries while protecting the Capitol during the siege. 

“This is Officer Liebengood — Howie — at a shift change in December 2014. Senators Coons and Blunt, and their staffs, would make and bring cookies over every year to mark the holidays and express our gratitude. He was a real person and a good guy, and this is a terrible tragedy,” tweeted Ian Koski. Photo courtesy of Ian Koski/Twitter.

The death of another officer, identified as Officer Howard Liebengood, was announced via a USCP press release. The statement indicated that Liebengood died Saturday but did not reveal the 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,” states the press release. “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.”

Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the USCP Labor Committee, said in a statement obtained by Fox News reporter Lindsay Watts that Liebengood was present during the Capitol siege and that the 15-year veteran had committed suicide. 

“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood. 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,” said Papathanasiou in the statement. “This is a tragic day.”

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.

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