Facebook Howard Liebengood and his wife
Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood, the second officer to die in the wake of the Capitol riots, was remembered for his friendly demeanor as he protected Congress. He was the son of a powerful sergeant of arms in the Senate and lobbyist with ties to many prominent politicians.
His death was confirmed by the Capitol Police in a news release, although they did not release a cause of death. However, Punchbowl News reported, via sources, that the cause of death was suicide.
“The United States Capitol Police is deeply saddened by the off-duty death on January 9, 2021, of Officer Howard Liebengood, age 51,” the Capitol police news release, dated January 10, says.
The death comes just days after multiple Capitol police officers were injured and one, Brian Sicknick, died as a result of the Capitol riots. Capitol police received withering criticism for lack of security in the wake of that; it’s not clear, however, whether the Capitol riots played any role in Liebengood’s death or where he was working at that time.
Gus Papanthanasiou, union chairman for Capitol police said, “This is the second death of a USCP Officer in just two days, with the passing of Officer Brian D. Sicknick on Thursday evening from injuries sustained while on duty during the assault on the Capitol on January 6th. We also mourn the recent death of Officer Eric marshall who died on January 2, 2021 fighting cancer. Their lives and service will not be forgotten.” FoxDC reporter Lindsay Watts wrote, “It’s been confirmed that Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide. He was among those who responded to Jan. 6 riot at Capitol.”
Here’s what you need to know about the life and death of Howard Liebengood:
1. Liebengood Was Assigned to the Senate Division; a Former Capitol Police Chief Called His Death a ‘Line of Duty Casualty’
According to the Capitol Police, “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.”
Capitol Police added: “We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time.”
Former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer told CBS News reporter Michael Kaplan that “Officer Liebengood was on the Hill on Wednesday, and called Liebengood’s death a ‘line of duty casualty’ — no less a line of duty casualty than Officer Sicknick’s,” wrote CBS correspondent Nancy Cordee on Twitter.
“These were both line of duty casualties,” she quoted him as saying.
Congressman Steve Scalise wrote on Facebook, “Heartbroken to learn of the loss of another member of the United States Capitol Police. My wife Jennifer and I are praying for Officer Howard Liebengood’s family following this unimaginable loss. His life and service to our nation will always be remembered.”
2. Liebengood Was Remembered as a ‘Truly Friendly Capitol Police Officer’
I’ll remember Howard Liebengood as a truly friendly Capitol Police officer who always had a smile on his face and a kind word to share, even at 6:45 in the morning.
— Nancy Cordes (@nancycordes) January 10, 2021
Nancy Cordee of CBS News wrote on Twitter, “I’ll remember Howard Liebengood as a truly friendly Capitol Police officer who always had a smile on his face and a kind word to share, even at 6:45 in the morning. Tragic.”
She shared a photo by Getty Images that showed Liebengood fingerprinting children for “Kid Safety Day” in 2008.
Senator Mark Warner posted a tribute that read, “I’m saddened to learn about the death of USCP Officer Howard Liebengood. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace. Thank you for your service.”
3. The Officer Was Newly Married
Officer Liebengood posted photos from his 2017 wedding on Facebook.
He also showed an interest in race cars and horse racing on his Facebook page.
Rob Owen, a Pittsburgh TV critic, wrote on Twitter, “Heartbreaking. Pretty sure this is the Howie I knew growing up in Vienna, Va. If so, his father, Howard Sr., was Sgt. at Arms of the U.S. Senate in the ’80s. Howie’s mom was a teacher at the preschool I attended and where my mom later worked. Prayers for the Liebengood family.”
4. In Addition to Being Sergeant of Arms, Liebengood’s Dad Became a Powerful Lobbyist With Ties to Prominent Senators
FacebookA photo posted to Howard Liebengood’s Facebook page.
According to journalist Yashar Ali, writing on Twitter, “Liebengood’s father, also Howard Liebengood, died in 2005. He was the Senate Sargeant at Arms in the early 1980s and then became a powerful lobbyist and an associate of Paul Manafort’s.”
The father’s obituary in the Chicago Tribune says that Howard S. Liebengood “was Senate sergeant-at-arms, chief of staff for two senators and a prominent Washington lobbyist.” He died of a heart attack in Vienna, Virginia, at the age of 62.
According to the Tribune, Liebengood’s dad “was a protege of former Senate majority leader Howard Baker, the Tennessee Republican. He was sergeant-at-arms from 1981 to 1983.”
He supervised “185 computer specialists, nine carpenters and seven barbers and the Capitol Police,” the newspaper reported, and he later joined the Tobacco Institute “as executive vice president for federal relations” and formed the lobbying firm Gold and Liebengood with former Capitol Hill staffer, Martin Gold, according to the Tribune. It became Washington D.C.’s fifth largest lobbying firm, representing the Chemical Manufacturers Association, Hopi Indian Tribe, Federal Express and more.
He was employed at a law firm and “became chief lobbyist for Philip Morris Cos. Inc.” He was very well connected, friends with Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee, and chief of staff to Republican Senator Bill Frist. He had three children.
5. Another Officer, Brian Sicknick, Died After the Capitol Riots
Metro PoliceBrian Sicknick
Officer Brian Sicknick, a Trump supporting military veteran who served overseas before becoming a police officer, died after collapsing in his office following the Capitol riots.
Reuters interviewed Sicknick’s father, who gave more details of what happened to his son. “As rioters overpowered Capitol police, Sicknick was pepper-sprayed and hit in the head, his father said. Ambulance crews resuscitated him twice as he was rushed to a nearby Washington hospital. Sicknick died the next day,” Reuters reported.
“He ended up with a clot on the brain,” his father told Reuters. “If they had operated on him, he would’ve become a vegetable.”
Other news accounts said he was struck with a fire extinguisher. A murder investigation is underway.
READ NEXT: The Life & Death of Brian Sicknick.