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When Brian Sicknick joined the U.S. Capitol Police, it was a dream come true.
But the dream came to a horrifying end Thursday, when the longtime officer died from injuries sustained when an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building while Congress was certifying the presidential vote for Joe Biden.
A native of South River, New Jersey, Sicknick was the youngest of three brothers. He enlisted in the National Guard six months after graduating Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick in 1997.
He deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1999 and in 2003, to Kyrgyzstan, where he worked at a transit base supporting the war in Afghanistan. He was a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and left the Guard in December 2003.
Membership in the Guard was his means to joining law enforcement, his family told The Associated Press. He joined the Capitol Police in 2008.
Sicknick was hurt “while physically engaging with protesters,” Capitol Police said in a statement. During the struggle, Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to multiple reports. A federal investigation into his death is underway.
His family said Sicknick cared for rescued Dachshunds in his spare time and rooted for the New Jersey Devils hockey team. He is survived by his parents, Charles and Gladys Sicknick, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza.
The family asked the public to respect its wishes “in not making Brian’s passing a political issue.”
“Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember,” the family said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Saturday ordered the U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities in honor of Sicknick, saying he “embodied the selfless spirit of his native state,” CBS New York reported.
Flags were lowered at the Capitol in his memory Friday.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, asked the Pentagon to grant Sicknick posthumous special honors and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Middlesex High plans to honor him by planting an oak tree on campus to symbolize his strength.