Attack on Capitol Police highlights security concerns

Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 18:37:27-04

DENVER — On Friday, a suspect drove into two Capitol Hill Police officers in Washington, D.C.. They shot him and he died, but so did one of the officers.

Capitol Police say Officer William F. Evans died. He was with the force for 18 years and a member of the First Responder Division.

Officer Brian Sicknick died following the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

This marks the first time since 1998 that two Capitol Hill Police officers died, and that's not counting the two officers who committed suicide earlier this year after the insurrection.

Six Capitol Hill Police officers have died in the line of duty, overall. Today's victim adds to that number.

There has been growing concern about security at the nation's capital since the insurrection. National Guard members were deployed in unprecedented numbers ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration earlier this year.

In Denver, state lawmakers were considering a $10 million security package, that would have included $1 million for a permanent fence around the capitol on E. Colfax Ave.. However, that was scrapped after the legislature received pushback from the public. It is possible a fence will go up, but lawmakers want to hear more input from Coloradans first.

The events that transpired in Washington, D.C. this year are tragic. Yet, there have been numerous incidents of terrorism and violence throughout modern history.

In 1932, U.S. military veterans camped out on the national mall, refusing to leave until they were paid a $500 bonus they were promised for fighting in the first world war.

After weeks of occupation and fears of the "Bonus Army", as it was dubbed at the time, sparking Communist uprisings in other cities in the country, President Herbert Hoover ordered the military to push them out.

The force deployed to clear the Bonus Army out used tear gas and bayonets to do the job. In total, two people were killed, 55 veterans were injured, and 135 were arrested.

The veterans were never paid.

In 1954, the U.S. Capitol was breached by Puerto Rican Nationalists, Demanding the U.S. give the territory its independence. After breaking into the House Gallery, they shot five members of Congress. None of them were killed.

The nationalists were tried, convicted, and imprisoned on attempted murder and other charges. However, former President Jimmy Carter later pardoned all of them in 1978 and 1979.

Then, in 1998, there was the deadly shootout that took the lives of the two Capitol Police officers mentioned earlier.

On July 24 of that year, an armed suspect stormed past a security checkpoint. He fatally shot Officer Jacob Chestnut, Jr.

A firefight broke out between the suspect and Capitol Police, and one tourist was injured.

The suspect ran into the Congressional office of then-Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay from Texas. Detective John Gibson, who was part of Delay's security detail, told Congressional aides and visitors to take cover, before engaging the suspect. Tragically, Gibson was shot and killed.

Chestnut and Gibson were honored for their heroic actions, and both chambers of Congress authorized a joint resolution to have their bodies "lie in honor" in the Capitol Rotunda.

Officer Sicknick was given a similar salute earlier this year.

There have been attacks and violent demonstrations at state capitols throughout the last century as well.

In 1967, armed members of the Black Panther Party took over the state legislature in Sacramento, Calif. They were protesting a bill to regulate firearms, claiming they were discriminatory against African-Americans and made them less safe. The bill would have prevented people from carrying loaded weapons into an unincorporated area.

While some members were arrested, none of them had their guns confiscated.

In 2020, armed protesters in Kentucky and Michigan caused trouble at their respective state capitols in Frankfort and Lansing.

The first happened in Kentucky on Jan. 31.

Armed protesters, some clad in black and body armor, entered the Capitol legally in a civilized manner while carrying their guns. They were part of the "We Are Kentucky Gun Owners" Group, rallying against firearms legislation being considered in other states around the country, most notably Virginia.

None of those protesters were arrested.

In late April, shortly after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the state's stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, a group of armed protesters broke into the state house, demanding the restrictions be lifted immediately.

The incident prompted the legislature, which was in session, to cancel and evacuate.

Most of the protesters weren't wearing masks and jammed into the halls of the capitol. One was seen screaming a security officer as he stands firm.

In January, Michigan officially banned people from open-carrying firearms at the state capitol.