WASHINGTON – The death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was injured in Wednesday’s riot is being investigated as a homicide by federal and local authorities.
Officer Brian Sicknick was involved in the agency’s riot response to the pro-Trump mob that breached the U.S. Capitol in an attack that left four demonstrators dead, the agency said in a statement. Any criminal charges related to Sicknick’s death will be federal because the events leading up to it happened on federal property, an official with knowledge of the matter said.
On Friday, Trump announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration. In the overnight hours, he posted a video to social media acknowledging his defeat and saying there would be a smooth transfer of power between administrations.
Inauguration Day in any era poses one of the most enormous security challenges for law enforcement. Fear of more violence is already top of mind: Following Wednesday’s riot, ADL (formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League) said extremists have already begun plotting their next coup attempt for Jan. 20.
Early Friday morning, a black metal fence anchored by concrete blocks enclosed the entire Capitol building aside from a few entrances, all of which were staffed by unarmed members of the National Guard. The area around the Capitol was quiet.
For the latest developments, keep refreshing this page. Here’s what to know:
►House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff to honor U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
►Thousands of National Guard troops were to arrive in Washington by the weekend and remain through Biden’s inauguration. Other stepped-up security measures include a “non-scalable” fence around the Capitol grounds.
►Acknowledging President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in his strongest words yet, President Trump called for a smooth transition of power in a video statement late Thursday. He stopped short of conceding the election but acknowledged that the nation had “just been through an intense election and emotions are high.” Friday, he said he would not attend Biden’s inauguration.
►U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, whose department was severely criticized for its flawed response to Wednesday’s attack, resigned Thursday. Also out: Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for their resignations.
►What we’re reading:Lawmakers prepared to fight or be killed as Trump mob attacked the Capitol: “This is our house, and we’re gonna protect it.”
Trump to skip Biden inauguration; ADL warns extremists have Jan. 20 in their sights
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Friday that he will not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.
Trump’s decision to skip Biden’s swearing-in ceremony comes just a day after the ADL (formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League) warned that extremists have already begun plotting their next coup attempt targeting Inauguration Day. These preparations, which began long before Wednesday’s violence at the Capitol, are taking place on social media forums, including Twitter and YouTube, and on fringe forums popular with extremists.
The Secret Service, which oversees inaugural security, said Thursday that security plans have been in development for more than a year “to anticipate and prepare for all possible contingencies.”
President-elect Joe Biden expressed confidence Wednesday.
“I am not concerned about my safety, security, or the inauguration,” Biden told reporters just hours after the siege at the Capitol forced Vice President Mike Pence and other top leaders to be whisked away to safety. “I’m not concerned. The American people are going to stand up, stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”
– Kevin Johnson and Jessica Guynn
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended condolences to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s family, saying the perpetrators responsible for his death “must be brought to justice.”
She ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in his honor.
“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history,” she said. “But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people.”
Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Sicnkick’s district in Virginia, called for the officer to lie in state, a rare honor extended to “any person who has rendered distinguished service to the nation,” according to the Architect of the Capitol.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting those trapped in the Capitol amid a violent assault on our democracy itself,” Beyer said in a statement. “Like others before him who died in defense of the people’s representatives, he deserves to lie in state.”
As the FBI seeks information on those who instigated violence at the US Capitol Wednesday, some rioters have been identified through images and video shared on social media — and some have lost their jobs or been placed on leave as a result.
Some notable examples include:
- Attorney Paul Davis, who shared video of himself saying “we’re all trying to get into the Capitol to stop this,” is no longer employed at Goosehead Insurance according to a tweet from the Texas company Thursday.
- Former Pennsylvania state representative Rick Saccone resigned from his position as an adjunct professor at Saint Vincent College after he shared images on Facebook of himself outside the Capitol. The school immediately began an investigation and as a result, Saccone “will no longer be associated with Saint Vincent College in any capacity,” according to a statement from Michael Hustava, the institution’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.
- Libby Andrews, an agent at a Chicago real estate brokerage firm, was fired when the company received a “tremendous amount of outreach” after she admitted on social media to “storming the Capitol.”
- Brad Rukstales, who told CBS Chicago that he was inside the Capitol, has been placed on a leave of absence from Cogensia, an Illinois marketing firm where he served as CEO according to a statement from the company.
Many at the Capitol riot shared images of themselves online, but federal authorities and Internet sleuths are attempting to identify others. The FBI’s Washington field office has tweeted dozens of images of rioters on Thursday and asked the public to help identify them.
Officer Brian Sicknick is the fifth person to die after the assault on the Capitol building. He had been with the U.S. Capitol Police since July 2008, and he most recently served in the department’s First Responder Unit, officials said in a statement.
“He returned to his division office and collapsed,” the agency said. “He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”
Officials said Sicknick’s death is being investigated by D.C. Metropolitan Police’s homicide unit.
Police say they have made at least 68 arrests, 41 of them on Capitol grounds, said Robert Contee III, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. Only one of those detained was from D.C., he said.
– Kevin Johnson
Friday morning as dawn broke, the area around the Capitol was quiet aside from a few runners and residents walking their dogs. A black metal fence anchored by concrete blocks now encircles the entire building aside from a few entrances, all of which are staffed by unarmed members of the National Guard.
The fence is similar to one used by federal officials to defend the courthouse in Portland last summer during riotous clashes between federal agents and Black Lives Matter supporters. During those clashes, rioters working in teams repeatedly breached the fence by attaching grappling hooks and then pulling down the metal portions until being pushed back by tear gas and pepper spray.
The majority of Black Lives Matter-affiliated protests over the summer were peaceful, according to a report by the U.S. Crisis Monitor, a joint effort including Princeton University in New Jersey that collects and analyzes real-time data on demonstrations and political violence in the United States.
On the Capitol’s west side, dozens of Virginia state troopers were staged in their patrol vehicles, and workers were rebuilding the damaged staging erected for President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Rioters on Wednesday used the staging to help them enter the building.
– Trevor Hughes, Grace Hauck, Deborah Barfield Berry
President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in his strongest words yet as he faces mounting criticism for his handling of the violence that erupted a day earlier at the U.S. Capitol.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter late Thursday. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
Trump stopped short of conceding the election but acknowledged that the nation had “just been through an intense election and emotions are high.” He said “tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”
The video, one of several Trump has posted from the White House in recent weeks, was the latest effort to get a hold of the fallout from the chaos that unfolded Wednesday when a mob attacked the Capitol and disrupted the counting of Electoral College votes. He has been criticized from members of both parties for whipping up a crowd of supporters at a rally near the White House minutes before the Capitol was overrun.
Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the violence in brief remarks from the White House and reiterated the administration’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20.
— John Fritze and Courtney Subramanian
In Washington, a city long shaped by hardworking Black Americans and immigrants, the terror unfolded at home, forcing residents to lock themselves behind closed doors or commute from work through downtown streets filled with throngs of white supremacists and law enforcement officials who have often been openly hostile toward their communities.
D.C. resident Nicole Holliday, 33, who is Black, noted the stark distinction between how people were treated by police on Wednesday compared to Black protesters over the summer during Black Lives Matter protests, when mostly peaceful demonstrators were greeted with armed law enforcement officers, tear gas and state-sanctioned violence.
“If these people were Black, they would be dead before they got to the building,” she said.
Residents also noted they had feared for the Black and brown essential workers in the district who still had to get home from work after Wednesday’s curfew. COVID-19, which disproportionately affects people of color, and the possibility of the largely maskless crowds leading to a superspreader event, is also a significant worry.
– Romina Ruiz-Goiriena, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Ryan W. Miller
The FBI released a photo of a suspect and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the location, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for pipe bombs found at the RNC and DNC headquarters on Wednesday.
The person in the photo released by the FBI’s Washington field office is masked, wearing a hoodie and gloves.
The FBI previously said it was “seeking information that will assist in identifying individuals who are actively instigating violence in Washington, D.C.” The agency said it was looking for tips and recordings depicting the rioting and violence.
“If you have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant at fbi.gov/USCapitol,” the agency said.
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said Thursday two men and one woman died in “separate medical emergencies.” At least 14 of Contee’s officers were injured during the demonstrations, he said. Two pipe bombs were recovered, one at the Democratic National Committee and the other one at the Republican National Committee.
Police identified the woman shot and killed during the riot as Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego, who was a military veteran. The other three who perished were Benjamin Phillips, 50, from Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, from Athens, Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Kennesaw, Georgia. Contee said Thursday all three died on Capitol grounds, but he didn’t specify how.
Graphic videos of the shooting show Babbitt wore a Trump flag as a cape as she tried to crawl through a broken window, flanked by other rioters. A single shot rang out, and she fell to the floor bleeding from an apparent neck wound.
Contributing: John Fritze, Courtney Subramanian, Christal Hayes, Ledyard King