U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were shot and killed a year ago today in the Capitol, were remembered there last night by a group of about 100 people including tourists, friends and fellow officers who gathered for a memorial service.
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority whip, recalled in remarks to the gathering how the officers saved his life when an armed man burst into his ground-floor office in the Capitol.
"Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson put themselves between a gunman and [my staff and me]," DeLay said. "That is bravery under fire. God bless our fallen heroes."
After the service, DeLay said that an underground visitor center would be built at the Capitol. It was proposed as a security measure after the shootings.
The service was organized by Capitol Police Officer Larry Schaefer, who said he felt that members of the Capitol force needed their own service. A congressional ceremony held in the Capitol on Thursday dedicated a doorway and plaque honoring the two officers.
Members of the slain officers' families did not participate in last night's ceremony. However, in a statement released to the press, Chestnut's wife, Wen-Ling Chestnut, said the past year had been " a difficult and painful journey" for her family.
She said it was a "sincere hope" of her family "that we stop the violence in this country."
In a statement, Gibson's wife, Evelyn, asked that her husband and Chestnut be remembered by honoring police work. Also remembered during the service was Capitol Police Sgt. Christopher Eney, who died in the line of duty in 1984.
Russell Eugene Weston Jr., who has been accused in the shooting of Gibson and Chestnut, has been ruled incompetent to stand trial.