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Capitol Police mark 25 years since gunman killed two officers

Chief says sacrifices of Detective John M. Gibson and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr., and their families, ‘deserve to be remembered’

Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger looks on as Wenling Chestnut, the widow of Capitol Police Officer J.J. Chestnut Jr., touches his face on the plaque at the Memorial Door in the Capitol on Monday. Capitol Police held a memorial ceremony and moment of silence in memory of Chestnut and John Gibson, officers who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.
Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger looks on as Wenling Chestnut, the widow of Capitol Police Officer J.J. Chestnut Jr., touches his face on the plaque at the Memorial Door in the Capitol on Monday. Capitol Police held a memorial ceremony and moment of silence in memory of Chestnut and John Gibson, officers who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol Police community gathered Monday to honor the sacrifice Detective John M. Gibson and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr., made 25 years ago when they were killed in the line of duty by a gunman.

Wenling Chestnut placed her hand on the bronze memorial plaque honoring the officers, extending her fingers onto the face of her late husband, who was also known as “J.J.” She remembers him as a man who was down to earth and garnered great respect from his fellow officers.

“Our officers did not forget what happened that day. We lost two officers, and they sacrificed their lives,” Chestnut said. “They loved their job, and they did their job.”

On July 24, 1998, at around 3:40 p.m., the shooter, Russell Eugene Weston Jr., entered the Capitol through what was then known as Document Door and shot Chestnut. That entrance is now known as Memorial Door.

Weston eventually headed toward the offices of then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas and encountered Gibson, a member of DeLay’s security detail. Gibson exchanged gunfire with Weston and was fatally wounded, but Gibson’s actions enabled other officers to stop the gunman, according to the office of the House historian.

Chief J. Thomas Manger said it is important to hold memorials such as this because the sacrifices of both the officers and family members “deserve to be remembered.”

“We made a promise to the families 25 years ago that we would never forget that sacrifice,” Manger added.

After the shooting, Congress authorized a resolution for Gibson and Chestnut to lie in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol for a memorial service. Congress also set up the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund, which serves as the official option for the public to support the families of officers who have been killed in the line of duty or officers who have sustained grave injuries on the job.

Gibson, 42, and Chestnut, 58, had each served 18 years at the agency and are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The department lists seven line-of-duty deaths since it was founded in 1828. Two officers died in the days after defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack: Officer Brian D. Sicknick endured strokes and died of natural causes, and Officer Howard C. Liebengood died by suicide.

Four Capitol Police officers have lain in honor in the Capitol Rotunda: Gibson, Chestnut, Sicknick and Billy Evans, who was killed in April 2021 when an attacker slammed a car into him.

Watch: 20 Years Ago, a Deadly Shooting in the Capitol Changed Life on the Hill Forever

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