Six days after he and a fellow officer were killed during a gun battle in the Capitol, Det. John M. Gibson was buried as a hero Thursday in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery.
“John, my best friend, I love you, I miss you,” Jack DeWolfe, supervisor of special agents for the Capitol Police, said in a eulogy at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Lake Ridge, Va. His voice breaking, he added: “You will be in my heart forever.”
More than 1,000 mourners packed the church, and dozens outside listened by loudspeaker.
After the funeral, a motorcade set out with more than 1,000 police cruisers and motorcycles in tow.
Ordinary citizens holding American flags lined the motorcade route, some stopping on highway overpasses to view the procession as it headed north to Washington on a route that stretched more than 15 miles.
“He saved many lives. He’s lost his own,” said 11-year-old Thomas Holman, who watched the procession dressed in his Boy Scout uniform.
The procession passed under an arch created by ladders from two fire trucks. A giant American flag hung from the arch.
Flanked by four motorcycle officers, Gibson’s hearse filed by the West Front of the Capitol, headed along Constitution Avenue and made its way over Washington’s Memorial Bridge before ultimately arriving at the cemetery.
Special permission was granted for Gibson, 42, who had not served in the U.S. military, to be buried at the cemetery normally reserved for veterans.
Capitol officer Jacob J. Chestnut, 58, also died last Friday when he attempted to stop the gunman at the Capitol. Chestnut, a Vietnam veteran, will be buried in Arlington Cemetery today.
The Chestnut family attended Gibson’s funeral, and the Gibsons planned to attend services for Chestnut at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Md.
Russell Eugene Weston Jr., 41, who remains hospitalized, was wounded in the gun battle and is the suspect in the case. He has not entered a plea to charges of killing two federal officers, which can result in the death penalty.
The judge unsealed court orders allowing various people to visit Weston in the hospital, including two psychiatrists. His family has said he is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who often ranted against the federal government and believed agents had planted mines on the land around his Montana cabin.
At Gibson’s funeral Thursday, police at Arlington cemetery formed two stationary motorcycle lines through which the motorcade passed.
Amid the shadows of a tree-lined hill at the historic graveyard, bagpipes played as family members and other mourners placed their hands on their hearts.
Gibson’s casket was then eased onto a platform by nine uniformed police pallbearers, and after a brief benediction, three police helicopters performed a fly-by tribute while three volleys of shots were fired by an honor guard.
Buglers played and the flag adorning his coffin was folded, removed and given to his wife, Evelyn. Then Gibson’s wife, daughter and two sons placed roses on his casket and departed.