New England lawmakers and local police were quick to react to the news Friday that a U.S. Capitol Police officer had died and another was badly injured after a driver rammed a car into them at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman confirmed Officer William “Billy” Evans died of injuries sustained in the attack. Congressman Richard Neal said Evans is a native of western Massachusetts.
In a statement Friday night, Neal said his heart broke as he watched the scene at the US Capitol unfold. He called Evans’ death tragic, and said it hits home.
“He is indeed a hometown hero and a patriot who risked and sadly lost his life to protect our country. We are a grateful nation in mourning,” Neal said. “This evening, my thoughts are with his family and friends who are grieving his untimely passing.”
A longtime friend of Evans told NBC10 Boston that Evans grew up in North Adams where he was a great athlete, excelling in multiple sports. Jason LaForest also said Evans had dreamt of becoming a U.S. Capitol Police officer as a young adult. According to LaForest, Evans had two young children.
Keating, who was not in Washington, D.C., when he joined NBC10 Boston for a virtual interview because Congress is currently in recess, said he is just heartbroken for Evans’ family and the other police officers.
“He [Evans] was a familiar face. These are people that we share real time with, see them repeatedly from the morning to the evening,” Keating said. “I had personal conversations after the January 6th event with officers, and I have a very deep feeling for the trauma that they’ve gone through and continue to go through.”
“I can’t say enough about how much they put on the line for us,” Keating added of the Capitol Police force. “One of the things people don’t realize is that their first goal is to protect all of us that are there as instruments of government.”