National Guard Member Protecting US Capitol Dies From Apparent Medical Emergency

March 11, 2021 Updated: March 11, 2021

A National Guard member who is part of the force protecting the U.S. Capitol has passed away, an official confirmed Thursday.

“Joint Task Force District of Columbia is sad to confirm the death of a National Guard member serving with the U.S. Capitol security mission due to an apparent medical emergency,” a spokesperson for the joint task force told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

The Guardsman was not on duty at the time of the death, which is under investigation.

Officials are not releasing the name of the member, pending notification of next of kin.

The spokesperson declined to share more details, referring The Epoch Times to the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington’s police force.

That department didn’t respond to a request for additional information, such as the time and place of death.

National Guardsmen were surged to the nation’s capital in January following the breach of the U.S. Capitol, with some 25,000 there at the peak of the deployment.

The Pentagon extended the deployment through May 23, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced this week, after a request for continued support from the U.S. Capitol Police.

Nearly 2,300 troops will remain in Washington for the next several months, a reduction of nearly 50 percent of the current support force.

“This decision was made after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness,” Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, adding that Pentagon officials “will work with the U.S. Capitol Police to incrementally reduce the National Guard footprint as conditions allow.”

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National Guard soldiers patrol the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 4, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Yogananda Pittman, the Capitol Police acting chief, had referenced a spike in threats to members of Congress in recent months as the rationale behind the continuing deployment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said the Guard will remain in Washington “as long as they are needed.”

Republican congressional leaders questioned the extension.

“I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol with all this razor wire around the complex. It reminds me of my last trip to [Afghanistan],” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“It looks terrible to have the beacon of our democracy surrounded by razor wire and Guard troops,” he added.

The extension came after dozens of troops were sickened by poorly prepared food.

Troops complained of being served raw meat and other improperly prepared meals, leaking photographs of the food to the press.

Kirby told reporters on Monday that 50 personnel were treated for gastrointestinal issues.

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