Sen. Coons mourns the loss of a US Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood
DELAWARE – It’s not often that someone makes an impact on almost every person they come in contact with, but with Capitol Police Office Howard Liebengood, it seems he left a positive mark on everyone he met.
Liebengood, who everyone knew affectionately as just “Howie”, tragically took his own life Saturday while off-duty. He was on the job Wednesday during the fatal insurrection of the US Capitol Building. Although his death did not come directly at the hands of the rioters, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D), who knew him well, speculated the suicide came as a result.
“Officer Howard Liebengood, who I knew as Howie, took his own life in part I think because of the consequences of the riot,” Sen. Coons said.
The friendship came, in part, because Liebengood would often work the Delaware entrance to the Russell Senate Office Building. A building where his dad, Howard Liebengood Sr., worked as well, serving as sergeant-at-arms in the 1980s.
Monday as we met Sen. Coons at his Wilmington office, simply mentioning “Howie’s” name brought looks of sadness, followed by the glimmer of fond memories being recalled.
“Howie was one of the most charming and funny, warm, engaging people I’ve ever met of any background of any kind,” Sen. Coons said. “He was comfortable. He was welcoming. He was just exactly the sort of dedicated public servant that is the best of law enforcement.”
“He understood the importance of that…how I’m going to love and care and protect and serve anyone regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation,” said J.J. Francis, Senior Director of Community Affairs for Sen. Coons. “That guy was just someone who was proud to be an American and was proud to protect the sanctuary that we call a democracy.”
Francis was just an intern attending graduate school when he first met Liebengood, but as he did with so many others, Francis said Liebengood soon became a mentor to him.
“There were many nights where I was rushing out to the Red Line to get on the metro to go to school where I had to go through a specific door by a specific time before it’s closed and that door was Howie’s. Howie knew I was coming all the time, knew when I was going to be late, he knew me very well. Many times (he) met me at that very door to send me on my way, opening the key and saying ‘have a goodnight at class’,” Francis said.
Liebengood is survived by his wife and siblings. However Sen. Coons says to honor both him and Ofc. Brian D. Sicknick, things need to be made right.
“I think it’s a genuine tragedy that both of these good officers, these good men have passed and we should all be holding him and their families in our prayers and doing what we must to make sure that we honor their service by making right what happened in the capitol on Wednesday,” Sen. Coons said.