President Biden offered his condolences after the car attack that killed Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans on Friday.
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life,” the president said in a statement. “We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss.”
Mr Biden added that he was lowering White House flags to half-mast and was ordering an investigation into the attack.
US Capitol Police say a vehicle rammed into two officers outside the Capitol on Friday, killing Mr Evans and injuring the other officer. A suspect was shot, and is now in custody. Police say Mr Evans had been a USCP officer for 18 years.
This was the first deadly attack on the Capitol since 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building, leading to the deaths of five people. In his statement, President Biden put Mr Evans’ death in that tragic context.
“We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it,” the president said. “I want to express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and others who quickly responded to this attack.”
Congressional leaders of both parties offered their sympathies as well.
“Today, America’s heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “He is a martyr for our democracy.”
“Praying for the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked at the Capitol,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnelltweeted after the assault but before the death was announced. “We are still learning what’s taken place. Grateful to all the USCP and first responders who are on the scene.”
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a similar statement.
“I’m heartbroken for the officer killed today defending our Capitol and for his family. I’m praying for the officer injured and his family,” the Senate Majority Leader tweeted. “We’re in their debt. We thank the Capitol Police, National Guard, & first responders for all they do to protect the Capitol and those inside.”
Speaker Pelosi ordered that flags at the Capitol be lowered to half-mast.
“Members of Congress, staff and Capitol workers, and indeed all Americans are united in appreciation for the courage of the U.S. Capitol Police,” her statement continued. “Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6.”
Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the USCP, asked for the public’s support as she announced the death of the officer killed today.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for US Capitol police after the events of January 6, and now the events that have occurred here today,” Ms Pittman said at a press conference. “So I ask that you keep our US Capitol police family in your thoughts and prayers.”
As the day went on, more members of Congress spoke out about the incident. Representative Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey expressed her sadness on MSNBC that another deadly attack had befallen the Capitol Police, who she said were still “traumatized” by the January riot.
“So many members of Congress, myself included, feel we owe them a huge debt that we can never repay for their bravery on January 6th, and to see the ongoing attacks against them…” Ms Sherrill said, trailing off. “My heart’s going out to all of their families, to all of their loved ones.”
Representative Ro Khanna of California was more blunt.
“The question we have to ask is, what is happening in our country?” Mr Khanna told MSNBC. “Something is really just wrong with our nation.”