A US Capitol Police officer died in the attack on the building by President Donald Trump’s supporters, taking the toll up to five as local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released photos of men and women involved in the riot, seeking public’s help to identify and prosecute them.
The Capitol building area was fenced off on Thursday after Wednesday’s mayhem, while authorities began investigating the siege.
The officer, Brian D Sicknick, died late on Thursday, the Capitol Police said in a statement. He “was responding to the riots on Wednesday” and suffered injuries “while physically engaging with protesters”, it said. He returned to his office and collapsed shortly thereafter. He died in a local hospital where he was taken for treatment.
Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher on Wednesday while struggling with the rioters who swarmed through the halls of Congress.
Ashli Babbitt, a woman who had served in the US Air Force, was shot and killed by police while reportedly trying to smash her way into the House of Representatives chamber through a window, with other rioters. Three other people died of medical emergencies.
The office of the US attorney for DC has opened a federal murder investigation into Sicknick’s death, according to reports. Those convicted could get the death penalty.
The case is being jointly conducted by the FBI and the DC Metropolitan Police Department, and the US Capitol Police.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags to fly at half-mast at the US Capitol in Sicknick’s honour.
“On behalf of the House of Representatives, I send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of officer Brian Sicknick, who died after defending the Capitol complex and protecting those who serve and work here,” she said in a statement. “Make no mistake. With our partners, we will hold accountable those who participated in yesterday’s siege of the Capitol,” FBI director Christopher Wray said.
“Let me assure the American people the FBI has deployed our full investigative resources and is working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to aggressively pursue those involved in criminal activity during the events.”
The FBI and the police released 40 photos of rioters seeking the public’s help to identify them. They included a man seen walking around with a confederate flag, and one who sat in the Senate president’s seat in the well of the chamber that was occupied just moments before on Wednesday by US vice-president Mike Pence as he had presided over the process to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.