Jacob Chestnut & John Gibson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Mourners gather in 1998 in the Capitol Rotunda where the bodies of two police officers killed when a gunman opened fire in the Capitol lie in honor.

Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson are two of the only four private citizens who have ever been given the honor of lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Billy Graham is lying in honor during a public ceremony today, and Rosa Parks has also been given that honor. But what did Chestnut and Gibson do to be given this rare honor? Here’s what you need to know.


1. Chestnut and Gibson Stopped a Gunman in the Capitol

July 24, 1998 Shooting at U.S. Capitol – ABC News4.flvThe United States Capitol shooting incident of 1998 was an attack on July 24, 1998 which led to the death of two United States Capitol Police officers. Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut were killed when Russell Eugene Weston Jr. entered the Capitol and opened fire.Chestnut was killed instantly and Gibson died during surgery at George Washington University Hospital but not before wounding Weston, who survived. Weston's exact motives are unknown, but he does suffer from a mental disorder and maintains a strong distrust of the federal government. He remains in a mental institution due to paranoid schizophrenia and has yet to be tried in court.2010-05-03T19:44:51.000Z

Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson were both Capitol Police Officers who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998. They were the very first people whose remains lay in honor in the Rotunda. Prior to them, only government officials were given that honor, called “lying in state.”

On that tragic day, an armed man — Russell Eugene Weston, Jr. — stormed past the Capitol security checkpoint with a Smith & Wesson revolver. He shot Chestnut in the back of the head. The Capitol Police engaged the man in gunfire, and a tourist was injured. The gunman ran toward the doors where Tom DeLay’s office was. Gibson was part of DeLay’s security detail, and he exchanged gunfire with the man, trying to stop him. He was fatally wounded in the exchanged, but his actions allowed other officers to stop the gunman.

The House and Senate passed a concurrent resolution authorizing the memorial service at the Rotunda.

Chestnut and Gibson were buried at the Arlington National Cemetery with full honors. DeLay said their deaths represented “the sacrifices of thousands of police officers across the Nation who do their duty to serve and protect the public, sometimes under great abuse, sometimes under great disregard, and many times people take them for granted. It all comes together when an incident like this happens and we realize how much we owe to police officers all over this country.”

Newt Gingrich said the men were “true heroes of democracy. … If not for their quick and courageous action, more than just one innocent civilian could have been injured.”


2. The Gunman Said He Stormed the Capitol to Stop Cannibals

GettyMembers of the US Congress circle the coffins of Capitol Hill policemen Jacob J. Chestnut and John Gibson in the Capitol Rotunda.

In a bizarre set of circumstances, the gunman Russell Eugene Weston Jr. told a psychiatrist that his shooting rampage was supposed to prevent the United States from being destroyed by cannibals. The gunman believed he would be infected by “Black Heva” if he didn’t come to D.C. The disease, he believed, was spread by cannibals’ victims’ corpses. He believed a “ruby satellite” that could stop the cannibalism was being kept at the Capitol in a Senate safe. He believed Chestnut and Gibson were cannibals trying to stop him.

Two years before the shooting, Weston showed up at the CIA claiming that Bill Clinton was a “Russian clone” brought to the U.S. to create a communist coup. He believed that he was a clone too. Weston believed he was perfectly healthy.  Weston’s parents said he’d struggled with mental illness for two decades, and believed that Clinton had dispatched the Navy Seals to kill him. Weston once even said that he would kill President Clinton first, and Secret Service interviewed him in 1996 about it. He also blamed Clinton for JFK’s assassination.

Weston was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in 1999. He’s still jailed at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, Politico reported. In 2008, he was given a hearing on his mental status, but he failed to be found competent.


3. DeLay Said Gibson Was Like a Brother To Him

USA: JOHN GIBSON – POLICEMAN MURDERED AT CAPITOL – IS BURIEDEnglish/Nat Slain United States Capitol police officer John Gibson has been laid to rest — after a large funeral procession through the nation's capital. The procession ended at Arlington National Cemetery, where a solemn graveside ceremony was held. More than 1-thousand police officers from throughout the United States and Canada accompanied Thursday's procession. They were joined by other mourners for the funeral of John Gibson. Gibson was one of two U-S Capitol security officers – the other named Jacob J. Chestnut – slain last week when an armed visitor opened fire. Ten buses and scores of police motorcycles lined suburban streets outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, where the service was held. About 100 mourners who could not get into the packed sanctuary listened to the service over loudspeakers. Gibson and Chestnut had worked as colleagues to protect the nation's lawmakers, but their families never met before the men's shocking deaths brought them together in mourning. The Chestnut family attended Gibson's funeral, and the Gibsons plan to attend services for Chestnut on Friday. During a 15-minute homily, Father Daniel Hamilton urged the mourners – around 15-hundred in number – to "make John and Jacob's legacy something to endure". UPSOUND: (English) "What needs to be said is that you and I need to be committed, committed to passing laws enforcing laws and living laws in our lives that root out violence as much as possible." SUPER CAPTION: Father Daniel Hamilton, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Mourners holding American flags stood in silent tribute along streets and overpasses as Gibson's funeral procession made its way to Arlington National Cemetery. Police officers lining the route saluted as the motorcade drove by. The procession snaked its way through Washington, D-C and past the Capitol on the 25-mile route to Gibson's final resting place. And as the motorcade drove over the Memorial Bridge back into Virginia, officers formed a line, saluting in his honour. Fellow officers from the Capitol provided an honour guard for the late 42-year-old, who was guarding Representative Tom DeLay of Texas when he was shot last Friday. Gibson's widow and children sobbed at the side of the coffin, as 21 shots were fired in salute and a lone trumpeter played "Taps". At the end of the sombre service, family members laid roses on the coffin of John Gibson. His wife, Evelyn, daughter and two sons were unable to contain their grief, and sought to comfort each other at the graveside. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/54f0ee8b8d133b61b11b8d4d38556263 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T17:44:52.000Z

To this day, DeLay still misses Gibson. He was his security officer, but also like a brother, he told Fox 26. “Of course I miss John Gibson dearly. He was one of my security officers, but at the same time he was like a brother to me.” That moment made him realize just how dangerous it was to be a government official. He said that today, leadership needs to steer conversations to be more civil, so they can discuss opposing viewpoints without vilifying the opposition.

Tony Ruby, an aide to DeLay, said he believed they would not have lived if it hadn’t been for Gibson. Gibson, 42, was married and had three children. He had been on the force for 18 years. His wife, Evelyn, was the niece of Rep. Joe Moakley.

One of Gibson’s neighbor’s said they talked a few days before the shooting about a D.C. police officer who was shot and killed at a nightclub. Gibson said he had never had to use his weapon, but if he did “it would be tunnel vision” and he would stay focused on what he had to do. Gibson was known for being generous, always willing to share with others. He was a sports fan who loved local teams, and he was devout and religious.


4. Chestnut Was Just Months Away from Retirement

GettyA view of a framed photo of fallen U.S. Capitol Police officers during an annual memorial service in honor of the four U.S. Capitol Police officers who have died in the line of duty, at the U.S. Capitol, May 9, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Jacob J. Chestnut, known as “J.J.,” had the less glamorous job of the two men, standing guard at the Capitol entrance. But the 18-year veteran took his job seriously. Friends said he was “diligent and precise.” He was also just months away from retirement.

Chestnut, 58, was married. He left behind a large family. He had two children from his current marriage and three from a previous marriage. He was a Vietnam veteran who had been nominated as Capitol Police Officer of the Year. He lived with his wife, Wendy, daughter Karen, and granddaughter Jasmine, who was only 3 when he died. His wife was a computer programmer at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Before joining the Capitol Police, Chestnut had been in the Air Force for 20 years. He and Wendy met when he was stationed in Taiwan. Neighbor Jerome Goldring told the Washington Post that Chestnut was the type of man who would do anything for you. “He was just a tremendous neighbor and a tremendous person. … Everybody should have neighbors like him.” He loved his work, kept a vegetable garden, and always had a big smile.


5. Members of Congress Still Remember & Honor Them

USA: WASHINGTON: TRIBUTE TO OFFICERS KILLED IN CAPITOL SHOOTING (3)English/Nat In an exceptional homage, United States President Bill Clinton and congressional leaders paid tribute on Tuesday to the two Capitol Police officers slain defending the historic building they were sworn to protect. J-J Chestnut and John Gibson laid in rest in the stately Rotunda, beneath the Capitol's famous dome. Members of the public began lining up early on Tuesday morning to pay their last respects to the two police officers killed in Friday's gun fight. Chestnut and Gibson, were cut down last Friday by an intruder who was himself wounded and captured. They have become only the 28th and 29th national figures honored in the Capitol's Rotunda in a tradition that began in 1852 with Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. Thousands of people have since filed past the caskets, which lay side by side in the centre of the awe-inspiring hall. At noon, hundreds of members of the House and Senate had their turn, noiselessly standing eight deep around the plush red theatre ropes surrounding the caskets. Spontaneously, a line of lawmakers formed to solemnly exchange sympathies with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and Republican Whip Tom DeLay. It was in DeLay's offices, for whom Gibson was bodyguard, that the final bursts of Friday's shootout with an intruder occurred. Many colleagues gave their respects to John Gibson's wife, Christine, and daughter Dani Ferro. Only a few melancholy sobs punctuated the sombre chamber's near silence during the memorial service. Members of the Clinton cabinet, Senators and members of Congress joined law enforcement officers and Capitol Hill staffers during the tribute. The U-S President was joined by his wife Hillary Clinton and senior advisors from the White House. Seated a few feet East of the caskets were the victims' families. The alleged assailant, 41-year-old Russell E. Weston Junior is recovering from wounds in his chest and elsewhere and facing further surgery at District of Columbia General Hospital. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, he was charged preliminarily with killing a federal officer, which carries a possible death sentence. A lawyer, A.J Kramer has been appointed to defend the suspect, but so far has said nothing about his meeting on Monday with Weston. Clinton, Lott, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Capitol Police Chief Gary L. Abrecht reverently laid large floral wreaths at the flag-draped coffins of Jacob J. Chestnut and John Gibson. SOUNDBITE: (English) "These two men have proven that they are the very best of friends, because they have paid the ultimate price." SUPER CAPTION: Trent Lott, Senate Majority leader (Republican – State of Mississippi) President Clinton praised the men's courage and bravery. SOUNDBITE: (English) "It is fitting that we gather here to honour these two American heroes. Here in this hallowed chamber that has known so many heroes, in this Capitol they gave their lives to defend. For they remind us what makes our democracy strong is not only what Congress may enact or a President may achieve – even more it is the countless individual citizens who live our ideals out every day. It is the quiet courage and uncommon bravery of Americans like J-J Chestnut and John Gibson and indeed every one of the 81 police officers who just this year have given their lives to ensure our domestic tranquillity." SUPER CAPTION: Bill Clinton, United States President An honour guard of Capitol Police colleagues, dressed in deep blue ceremonial uniforms and white gloves, surrounded the caskets. Both men will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, an honour reserved for presidents and national heroes. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/1d5fc72400d644b9a08e18118a3e1918 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T17:45:23.000Z

All these years later, members of Congress still honor the two men’s sacrifice. The video above shows how they were honored in the Rotunda. The next video shows Congressmen speaking about their grief over these two men’s passing, shortly after it happened:

USA: WASHINGTON: SENATE HONOURS OFFICES KILLED IN CAPITOL SHOOTINGEnglish/Nat It was a day of remembrance on the United States Capitol Hill. U-S lawmakers honoured the two police officers shot to death protecting them from a gunman with speeches and a moment of silence. Grieving House and Senate members took to the floor of their respective chambers to pay tribute to the two officers who died on Friday – Jacob Chestnut, and John Gibson. The regular prayers held at the beginning of every Senate and House session had special poignancy for the members on Monday. SOUNDBITE: (English) "Our hearts are at half mast in the honour of Capitol police officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson who were killed in the line of duty here in the capitol last Friday afternoon." SUPERCAPTION: Lloyd Ogilvie, Senate Chaplain Senate Majority leader Trent Lott called for a moment of silence SOUNDBITE: (English) "I'd like to ask that we take another moment of silence to remember them and to say a personal word of prayer for their family and friends." SUPERCAPTION: Senate Majority leader Trent Lott UPSOUND: Silence Senator Lott said the deaths of the two officers was a loss felt keenly by many in the Capitol. SOUNDBITE: (English) "What happened in the capitol last Friday afternoon was a tragedy for our nation. But for all of us here, it was something more. It was a death in the family." SUPERCAPTION: Senate Majority leader Trent Lott The House of Representatives, meanwhile, began work on a resolution to formally allow the use of the Capitol Rotunda for a memorial service for the slain officers. They also plan to install plaques to the two men in the area where they were shot, and to pay for their funeral expenses. SOUNDBITE: (English) "As we gather for our prayer we come as people who have the honour of service in this special place, but today we mourn the loss of two of our colleagues who gave their lives so others would live. From this time onward the names of Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson will be remembered with honour and dignity and praise and thanksgiving." SUPERCAPTION: James Ford, House Chaplain Representative Tom Delay, (Republican-Texas) whose office was the site of Friday's gunfight, spoke in a halting and hoarse voice about the two officers who died saving lives. SOUNDBITE: (English) "They are leaving behind many grieving friends and associates in the capitol hill community. I saw J-J Chestnut every night when I left this building. He was always standing there, by the document door, he was always grinning and he was always giving me in a very warm open-hearted way a hearty, hearty, 'Goodnight, Congressman. You take care of yourself.' And every night, I would respond with 'J-J, you be careful.' He was careful, but unfortunately, not enough." SUPERCAPTION: Tom Delay, House Minority Whip, (Republican, Texas) Both chambers are also scheduled to consider an additional resolution honouring the two officers. The first resolution authorizes the Rotunda ceremony for the two men, an honour usually reserved for president and national heroes. Speakers at Tuesday's memorial ceremony will include President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Trent Lott. The two coffins will lie in state in the Rotunda. As the flags over the Capitol remained at half-mast, congressional staff and employees returned the Hill for the first time since the shootings. Outside, the pile of flowers left by passers-by in memory of the two men continues to grow. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/e753bea3e6aaca6fd86803b3b1f653f0 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T17:45:41.000Z

And next is a video where Mitch McConnell remembers them publicly in 2013:

Remembering Officer Chestnut and Detective GibsonSenator Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor in remembrance of Officer Jacob Joseph Chestnut and Detective John Michael Gibson, who lost their lives while protecting the U.S. Capitol 15 years ago.2013-07-24T13:54:22.000Z