The family of Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans, who was killed in the line of duty in an attack at the U.S. Capitol building last Friday, said that he was "was the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for" and that his passing "has left a gaping void in our lives that will never be filled."
Evans will lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced earlier Tuesday.
Evans' family broke their silence for the first time since the attack with a statement released through the U.S. Capitol Police, describing their fallen hero.
Describing Officer Evans as a devoted father who loved playing Lego, having lightsaber duels and reading "Harry Potter" to his children, his family said that his two children, Logan and Abigail, regarded their father as "their hero long before the tragic events of last week."
"While family was always first, Billy had the open, welcoming personality that led him to make friends with anyone he met," they added. "He relished bringing people together and making sure everyone felt included and had a good time."
Officer Evans was killed when a driver rammed their vehicle into him and another officer at a barricade near the Capitol. The driver then emerged from the car with a knife and was shot and killed by police. Investigators believe Green had been delusional and increasingly having suicidal thoughts.
His family said they are "immensely grateful" for the support they have received from the Capitol Police, as well as from the law enforcement community around the world, and have asked for continued privacy and patience as they grieve.
Officer Evans' will lie in honor at the Capitol next week, an honor the U.S. Capitol Police called "a solemn tribute for a friend and colleague for whom we are in deep mourning."
“The United States Congress joins all Americans in mourning the tragic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes, Officer Billy Evans,” said Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement. “In giving his life to protect our Capitol and our Country, Officer Evans became a martyr for our democracy. On behalf of the entire Congress, we are profoundly grateful.”
Capitol Police released few personal details about Evans prior to releasing the statement from his family. Evans grew up in North Adams, Massachusetts, a close-knit town of about 13,000 people. His mother still lives in the state.
Evans loved sports, particularly baseball – the Boston Red Sox played a large part in his life, according to North Adams City Councillor Jason LaForest, who knew Evans for more than 30 years.
"He was a great father and shared his amazing sense of humor and shared his love of sports and life ... with his children," LaForest told Spectrum News.
"He became a talented musician, a talented athlete, he played several different sports – and of course, grow into a fine young man who had the dream of becoming a U.S. Capitol Police Officer and later, a dad," he added.
Evans attended Western New England University, graduating in 2002 as a criminal justice major. He joined the Capitol Police the next year.
LaForest told The Associated Press that Evans never wanted to be known as a hero.
“He wanted to serve his country as a Capitol police officer and looked forward to seeing lawmakers and visitors who came to the Capitol every day, many of whom became friends of Billy’s in large part because of his good-natured sense of humor,” LaForest said. “And, unfortunately, Billy paid the ultimate price defending his country.”
But that's how Evans will no doubt be remembered – for his bravery, valiance, and heroism, with lawmakers paying tribute to him in the wake of the attack.
“It is now the great and solemn privilege of the House of Representatives and the Senate to convey the appreciation and the sadness of the Congress and Country for the heroic sacrifice of Officer Evans with a lying-in-honor ceremony in the U.S. Capitol,” the Democratic leaders continued. “It is our hope that this tribute will be a comfort to the family of Officer Evans, particularly his children Logan and Abigail, as will the knowledge that so many Americans mourn with and pray for them at this sad time. May this tribute also be a source of comfort and an expression of gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police Force, which has awed our nation with their courage and resilience during this devastating time.”
A ceremonial arrival will take place on Tuesday, April 13, with a Congressional tribute and viewing period to follow.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony will be limited to invited guests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.