The family also had face-to-face moments with the president, no stranger to grief himself.
Evans, 41, was killed April 2 when a man rammed a car into the steel barrier that he and another officer were guarding near the Russell Senate Office Building. Police fatally shot the driver of the vehicle; the other officer was injured but survived. The sudden attack unfolded less than three months after members of the Capitol Police were injured — one fatally — during the Jan. 6 riot. It left the city, once again, on edge.
An 18-year veteran of the Capitol Police, Evans was a North Adams, Mass., native and a father of two children, Logan and Abigail. He has been described as a dedicated officer, a Star Wars fanatic and, most of all, a family man who loved and was loved by his children.
“His most cherished moments were those spent with them — building with Lego, having lightsaber duels, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, and recently finishing the Harry Potter series,” the family said in a statement April 6. “He was always so eager to show how proud he was of everything they did. Any opportunity to spend time with his children brightened both their lives and his. Their dad was their hero long before the tragic events of last week.”
It was the second time in two months that a Capitol Police officer laid in honor at the Rotunda after being killed in the line of duty. Brian D. Sicknick, a victim of the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol, was given the distinction in February. Only a handful of people have received the honor.
At Tuesday’s ceremony, streamed by C-SPAN and multiple news networks, Logan and Abigail stood at the top of the East Capitol steps as the military honor guard carried their father’s flag-draped casket inside. They held their mother’s hands and their stuffed animals. Logan pressed a police hat to his chest.
The nation’s top leaders filed inside for the ceremony, where Evans would be laid in honor in the Rotunda and eulogized by the president and the heads of Congress. Logan wore the police hat; slightly too large, it covered his eyebrows and slid down when he bowed his head. Abigail held a stuffed German shepherd, a breed often used as police dogs.
At one point, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the children that she hoped they would find some comfort in that “so many now know about your dad, and know that he is a hero,” President Biden left his chair to retrieve the Capitol figurine that had slipped from Abigail’s hands to the floor. He handed it back to her, and the crowd laughed as Pelosi remarked, “Greater compliment does no one have than the president of the United States looking after your toys.”
When it was his turn to speak, Biden addressed the family directly, describing his own experience with loss after the deaths of his wife and daughter and, years later, his son. He promised that a time would come when they would smile before crying at Evans’s memory.
“You’re going to make it by holding each other together,” Biden said. “Most importantly, by holding Logan and Abigail as tightly as you can. Because as long as you have them, you’ve got Billy. As long as you have them.”
The president left the lectern and walked immediately to the family. Bending toward the children, he told them, “I have some idea of what you’re feeling like. I buried two of my children.”
After the speeches, the songs and the benediction from the Senate chaplain, the sergeant-at-arms staff led the mother and children to the casket. The three lingered there for a moment, hands held, the first to pay their respects.
Evans lay in honor in the Rotunda until evening fell.