MPD

Two More Officers Who Defended US Capitol Die by Suicide

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Two more law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol against the mob attack on Jan. 6 have died by suicide, after two other officer suicides earlier this year.

Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead in his home on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed Monday. He served as an officer for more than 18 years, joining the department in 2003. Hashida was 43 and was assigned to the Special Operations Division’s emergency response team. 

“We are grieving as a Department as our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Hashida’s family and friends,” an MPD spokesperson said in a statement.

Hours after that announcement, Chief Robert Contee confirmed 26-year-old Officer Kyle deFreytag died by suicide July 10. He was assigned to the Fifth District and responded to the Capitol as rioters loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed the building on Jan. 6.

“It’s very sad,” Contee said. “I think it’s definitely a reminder that we have to focus on the mental health and well-being of our members.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her condolences.

“Officer Hashida was a hero, who risked his life to save our Capitol, the congressional community and our very democracy," Pelosi said in a statement.  "All Americans are indebted to him for his great valor and patriotism on Jan. 6 and throughout his selfless service.”   

Officer Michael Fanone, who has testified before Congress about the attack, said Hashida was a close colleague and one of the best officers he knew. 

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide in the days after the insurrection. D.C. Officer Jeffrey Smith died by suicide later that month. 

Contee spoke on Monday about how to support officers and give communities what they need.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed an $11 million public safety budget that would include, among other things, money to hire 170 more officers. The D.C. Council offered a compromise of $5 million.

“I’ve been talking to residents all across the city on Zoom calls, in communities, on the scenes of homicides, and I have yet to come across a resident to say, ‘Hey, yes, I want a shrinking police force,” Contee said. “To run these officers into the ground, that’s just not something that I’m willing to do. We have to make sure that we continue to make the investments that need to be invested.”

A survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit think tank, found police resignations increased by 20% nationwide last year.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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