New Jersey native, slain Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick honored in DC: 'We will never forget'

WASHINGTON (WABC) -- Congressional leaders paid tribute Wednesday to slain U.S. Capitol police officer and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick in the building he died defending, promising his family and his fellow officers that they will never forget his sacrifice.

Sicknick, originally from South River, died after an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting the electoral count after then-President Donald Trump urged them to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat. The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick, who died the next day, was injured "while physically engaging with protesters," though the cause of his death has not been determined.

The arrival of Sicknick's remains at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday was solemn, with dozens of Capitol Police standing at attention as his urn was carried up the Capitol steps.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sicknick was a patriot who will be remembered by lawmakers each day as they enter the Capitol.

"We will never forget," she promised his family, who attended the ceremony.

The 42-year-old officer was only the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with their spouses, paid their respects during two days of visitation Tuesday and Wednesday, as did members of Congress and his fellow law enforcement officers. Both Biden, who visited Tuesday night, and Harris on Wednesday, laid their hands on the urn in remembrance.

After the ceremony, Sicknick's urn was taken out of the building as hundreds of his fellow officers lined the Capitol's east front. They saluted his hearse as it departed for Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be interred.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking at the ceremony, talked of the deep scars left by the assault. He said Sicknick was the "quiet rock" of his unit who was "caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, on a day when peace was shattered."

"Let us all be a comfort to those who continue to recover from injuries, seen and unseen, from the attack on Jan. 6," Schumer said.

The New Jersey State Police escorted his family to Washington in coordination with Delaware and Maryland state police.

"The state police is humbled and honored to be a part of honoring his phenomenal life as a as a family member from New Jersey," Colonel Pat Callahan said.

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In a statement, family members thanked the Congressional leadership for bestowing the honor on Sicknick. They also expressed their gratitude to everyone who has offered condolences.

Sicknick, 42, enlisted in the National Guard six months after graduating high school in 1997, deploying to Saudi Arabia and then Kyrgyzstan. He joined the U.S. Capitol Police in 2008.

Like many of his fellow officers, he often worked security in the Capitol itself and was known to lawmakers, staff and others who passed through the building's doors each morning.

There are still questions about his death, which was one of five as a result of the rioting. As the mob forced its way in, Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. He collapsed later on, was hospitalized and died.

The day was full of solemn ceremony and of reminders of the violence that occurred a month ago. Some of the evidence remains visible, including shattered windows and dented wood doors. Sicknick's urn was carried through one of the entrances the rioters broke through, and groups of them paraded through the Rotunda where his ashes lay. The lawmakers who attended the ceremony - some of them wiping away tears - evacuated the House and Senate as the rioters closed in.

"Four weeks ago, the Rotunda was strewn with the debris of an insurrectionist mob," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. "Today, it is adorned in solemn thanksgiving for the sacrifice of a hero."

Investigators are also examining whether he may have ingested a chemical substance during the riot that may have contributed to his death, the officials said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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