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Police officer killed in U.S. Capitol riot wanted to be in law enforcement from an early age

Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died after being attacked as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, wanted to be an officer "his entire life," his family says.

Brian Sicknick's death has shaken the U.S after an armed mob stormed the halls of the Capitol

A native of South River, N.J., Sicknick served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and went on to a law enforcement career, which his family said was his lifelong dream. (U.S. Capitol Police/The Associated Press)

From his early days growing up in a New Jersey hamlet, Brian Sicknick wanted to be a police officer.

He enlisted in the U.S. National Guard six months after graduating high school in 1997, deploying to Saudi Arabia and then Kyrgyzstan. Joining the Guard was his means to joining law enforcement, his family said.

He would join the U.S. Capitol Police in 2008, serving until his death Thursday after being attacked as rioters seething over President Donald Trump's election loss stormed the U.S. Capitol, believing the president's false claims of a rigged election.

"His brother told me, 'Brian did his job,"' said John Krenzel, the mayor of Sicknick's hometown of South River, N.J.

Sicknick's death has shaken the U.S. as it grapples with how an armed mob could storm the halls of the U.S. Capitol as the presidential election results were being certified, sending hundreds of lawmakers, staff and journalists fleeing for safety. Videos published online show vastly outnumbered Capitol Police officers trying in vain to stop surging rioters, though other videos show officers not moving to stop rioters in the building.

A U.S. flag flies at half-mast in remembrance of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick above the Capitol Building in Washington on Friday. Sicknick died from injuries sustained as President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

Police leadership badly miscalculated the threat despite weeks of signals that Wednesday could get violent. And they refused Pentagon help three days before the riot, and again as the mob descended. Under withering criticism, the police chief resigned as have the chief security officers for both the U.S. House and Senate.

The Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick was injured "while physically engaging with protesters." During the struggle, Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Sicknick was the youngest of three boys growing up in South River, a small borough of about 16,000 people in central New Jersey, about 25 kilometres from Staten Island. He graduated from the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick, N.J., in June 1997.

Superintendent Dianne Veilleux said school records show Sicknick wanted to be in law enforcement. The school will honour him by planting an oak tree on campus to symbolize his strength.

He enlisted in the New Jersey Air National Guard that December, still a teenager, first deploying to Saudi Arabia in 1999. In 2003, he deployed to Kyrgyzstan, where the U.S. military operated a transit base supporting the war in Afghanistan. He was honourably discharged in December of that year.

Vocal critic of U.S. war in Iraq

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Sicknick became a vocal critic of the war, writing several letters to the editor of the local newspaper that sharply criticized former president George W. Bush for his management of the effort. In one July 2003 letter, published five months before his formal discharge, he said that "our troops are stretched very thin, and morale is dangerously low among them."

In a statement issued Friday, Sicknick's family said he "wanted to be a police officer his entire life" and had joined the Guard "as a means to that end."

A biography issued by his family says Sicknick cared for rescued Dachshunds in his spare time and rooted for the New Jersey Devils. He is survived by his parents, Charles and Gladys Sicknick, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza.

The family asked the public to respect its wishes "in not making Brian's passing a political issue."

"Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember," the family said.

Police preparation questioned after angry mob stormed U.S. Capitol

11 months ago
2:27
The Capitol police chief has resigned amid questioning about how prepared the force was for a rally that turned into a riot on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. 2:27

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