On Friday afternoon, hours after U.S. Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans, was killed in the line of duty, two of his fellow officers pulled into the quiet suburban Virginia neighborhood where he was often seen with his children.
Evans was among two officers injured when a vehicle rammed into them outside the U.S. Capitol, according to acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman.
His death comes less than three months after the agency’s officers fought to protect lawmakers by clashing with a riotous mob that descended on the Capitol building in January, leaving one officer dead and scores of others injured.
On Friday, Pittman was forced to address yet another deadly attack at the Capitol complex — this one resulting in the death of Evans, who joined the force in 2003 and was a member of the first-responder unit.
The assailant, identified by several people familiar with the investigation as Noah Green, was shot and killed by police.
“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant,” Pittman said in a statement.
Evans was the sixth member of the Capitol Police force to die in the line of duty, according to the department. The casualties include Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died Jan. 7, one day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
News of Evans’s death prompted an outpouring of condolences from lawmakers and officials, including President Biden, who on Friday afternoon ordered White House flags to be lowered to half-staff.
“We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it,” Biden said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement called Evans a “martyr for democracy.”
“Today, America’s heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans,” she wrote. “Once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6. On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”
The Evans home is tucked into a leafy cul-de-sac dotted with trees with white flowers. It appeared that the family had been preparing to celebrate Easter. On the concrete pathway that curved to the family’s front door, someone had drawn in chalk a large yellow cross, surrounded by shapes of different colors. In overall effect, it resembled a stained-glass window. And someone had arranged colorful gel letters — the kind made for children — to spell “HAPPY EASTER” across the glass front door.
Capitol Police officers told a Washington Post reporter that the family was having a difficult time and would appreciate being given space to mourn in private.
Bob Epskamp, who lives four doors down from the family, said he met Evans about 12 years ago. He recalled Evans talking fondly of his two young children, adding that he was a “loving and caring father” who was as dedicated to his job as he was to his family.
Epskamp, 91, said the last time he spoke with Evans was in January — in the days immediately after the insurrection at the Capitol.
“I told him I was glad he was fortunate enough not to be on duty that day,” Epskamp recalled.
Olga Baturina, 60, has lived more than a decade in the neighborhood. She said she never got to know Evans very well, only well enough to say “Hi” when they passed each other on the sidewalk. But she said there was one thing that she’ll never forget: the way his children’s faces lit up with joy every time they saw Evans driving into the neighborhood.
“His children, they just love him, they are always so happy to see him,” she said. Every time she glimpsed a reunion, “everyone was smiling.”
Beth Terranova, an extended relative of Evans, recalled that he was a Star Wars fanatic — owning myriad collectibles including Christmas ornaments related to the franchise. He also enjoyed online gaming in his spare time, and hailing from Massachusetts, rooted deeply for Boston’s sports teams.
“He was a great dad and very dedicated police officer,” said Terranova, 65.
Near the Capitol, D.C. residents Hallie Harper, 30, and Peter Devine, 34, turned their daily walk around the building into a chance to stop for a moment of silent tribute to the fallen officer. They paused on Independence Avenue NE, looking at the lawn where this time last year, they had an Easter picnic with friends.
The couple had grown used to waving to Capitol Police officers and National Guardsmen on their walks this year. Now they feared that those people, and the building they protect, are even more of a target than they were immediately after Jan. 6.
“There was hope the Capitol grounds would reopen this summer,” Harper said. “This act of violence has shuttered any hope that I had.”
Paul Duggan and Jessica Contrera contributed to this report.