WASHINGTON — Four law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol insurrection have now died by suicide, a sobering toll which doubled on Monday, after Metropolitan Police confirmed two of the department’s officers who responded on January 6 recently took their own lives.
Officer Kyle DeFreytag served in the city’s 5th District and was at the Capitol to enforce curfew violations, Metropolitan Police confirmed. Chief Robert J. Contee III sent a message to the police force notifying personnel of DeFreytag’s death last month.
“I am writing to share tragic news that Officer Kyle DeFreytag of the 5th District was found deceased last evening,” Contee wrote in a mid-July message to the department. “This is incredibly hard news for us all, and for those that knew him best.”
The confirmation of DeFreytag’s death came hours after a spokeswoman for MPD said Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead at his residence last Thursday. Hashida, who joined the department in May 2003, was most recently assigned to the department’s Emergency Response Team.
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According to his obituary, posted by the Mountcastle Turch Funeral Home in Dale City, Virginia, Hashida would have turned 44 this Thursday.
In January, U.S. Capitol Police announced 51-year-old Officer Howard "Howie" Liebengood, took his own life. Liebengood was a 15-year veteran of the USCP and the son of former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Howard Liebengood Sr.
Weeks later, a second officer who responded to the Capitol, MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith, died by suicide. Smith’s death was announced by Chief Contee while addressing a closed session of the House Appropriations Committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement Monday afternoon, calling Hashida a hero who risked his life for "our very Democracy:"
“Officer Hashida was a hero, who risked his life to save our Capitol, the Congressional community and our very Democracy. All Americans are indebted to him for his great valor and patriotism on January 6th and throughout his selfless service.
“May Officer Hashida’s life be an inspiration to all to protect our Country and Democracy. And may it be a comfort to Officer Hashida’s family that so many mourn their loss and pray for them at this sad time.”
The day after the riot, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died as a result of multiple strokes suffered after defending the Capitol.
On January 6, hundreds of officers responded to the U.S. Capitol to defend the building from thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump. The supporters were there attempting to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes. More than 140 officers were injured while defending members of Congress, including at least 65 MPD officers.
If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via the toll-free hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741. In Washington, D.C., you can also reach the Department of Behavioral Health’s Access HelpLine at 1-888-7WE-HELP or 1-888-793-4357.
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