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U.S. Capitol police officer who died after violent assault ‘loved his job’

U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, 40, poses in an undated photograph

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – His first big assignment was working at former President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Officer Brian Sicknick had just been sworn in with the U.S. Capitol Police Department, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“He loved his job,” his father, Charles Sicknick, said in an interview with Reuters. “I’ll never get over this.”

Sicknick, 42, died Thursday night, a day after physically engaging with a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol where lawmakers had just begun a formal vote to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

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.

“He ended up with a clot on the brain,” his father said. “If they had operated on him, he would’ve become a vegetable.”

Sicknick’s death is being investigated as a homicide by the Washington Metropolitan Police. The FBI is assisting. As a member of the department’s First Responder’s Unit, Sicknick was the sixth U.S. Capitol Police officer to die in the line of duty.

“His death was a waste,” said John Krenzel, the mayor of Sicknick’s hometown in South River, New Jersey. “It’s just a tragedy.”

PLAQUE AND SERVICES IN CAPITOL

Sicknick was a Trump supporter, his father said. While his parents avoided talking politics with their son, his family said Sicknick’s political views never interfered with his duty to protect and serve.

“He just got along real well with everybody because he was a gentleman,” said the elder Sicknick.

Sicknick’s father said Vice President Mike Pence and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the family on Friday to offer their condolences. During the call, Pelosi invited the family to the Capitol to pick out a spot for a plaque that will be made in Sicknick’s honor. Funeral services will also be held at the Capitol, according to his father.

Before joining the Capitol police in 2008, the New Jersey native served with the Air National Guard and was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan.

Trump has not publicly commented on the officer’s death or the other four people who died when his supporters overran the Capitol building this week following Trump’s “Save America” rally where the president exhorted his followers to fight.

“If any good comes out of my son’s death, I just hope that it stops all the lunacy that’s been going on in this country,” his father said.

Sicknick is survived by his parents, two older brothers, and his girlfriend of 11 years.

While there are plans for Sicknick to be cremated and laid to rest at a military cemetery in Arneytown, New Jersey, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin said on Saturday that she had asked Pentagon leaders for him to be given posthumous special honors and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Slotkin said Sicknick upheld the oath he swore in the military to protect and defend the Constitution, and that he and his family should be recognized for all he did for his country.

A GoFundMe campaign set up to support Sicknick’s family exceeded its goal of $250,000 in less than 24 hours.

“I’m supposed to die first,” said his father, who turns 82 next month. “Not my son.”

(Reporting by Linda So; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)

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