WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday paid tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer William Evans, who was killed earlier this month when a man rammed his car into him and another officer at the Capitol, during a memorial service in the building’s Rotunda.
“Your son, your husband, your brother, your dad was a hero,” Biden told Evans’ family, including his two children, after his flag-draped casket was brought into the Capitol to lie in honor.
Evans’ son Logan, 9, and Abigail, 7, were seated between their mother and grandmother as the president spoke, both clutching stuffed animals. Biden told the family their father’s spirit was living in on in the children.
“You are going to make it by holding each other together. By holding Logan and Abigail as tightly as you can. As long as you have them, you have Billy,” Biden said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi., D-Calif., called Evans “a martyr for our democracy.”
As she spoke, Abigail dropped a model of the Capitol dome she had been holding, which was swooped up off the ground and returned to her by the president.
“A greater compliment does no one have than the president of the United States looking after your toys,” Pelosi noted to the 7-year-old.
The little girl remained stoic throughout the ceremony, and at one point wiped away tears from her mother’s face.
Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force, is the fourth Capitol Police officer to ever lie in honor. He was killed on April 2 when a man drove a car into him and another officer before hitting a security barricade outside the Capitol. The man, 25-year-old Noah Green, of Indiana, got out of the vehicle and lunged at the officers with a knife before being shot and killed by police, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remembered Evans as “a prankster.”
“He capitalized on every opportunity for a joke,” Schumer said, including ribbing lost tourists who’d stop him to ask for directions. They’d ask him if they could ask him a question, and he’d reply, ‘you already did.’ He would follow the crack by asking them, ‘How can I help?'”
“Those four simple words,” Schumer said, summed up “his life’s mission.”
Vice President Kamala Harris paid her respects to Evans later in the afternoon, and thanked the officers lining the hall outside of the rotunda. “Take care of yourselves,” she said.
The memorial for Evans, who served in the first responders Unit, comes three months after the attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, which resulted in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. His remains were also laid in honor in the Rotunda. Another Capitol Police officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide in the days after the riot.
Evans will be buried in Bellevue cemetery in Adams, Massachusetts with his father and his mother’s parents, a representative for the family told NBC News. A spokesman for the Capitol Police said the burial will be on Thursday.