Hundreds pay respects at funeral of slain US Capitol officer

Through a dreary rain in a small Massachusetts town, hundreds lined the streets to honor Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans


By Patrick Johnson
masslive.com

ADAMS, Mass. — Through a dreary, sometimes heavy rain, hundreds of Berkshire County residents lined the streets Thursday to pay tribute to one of their own: U.S. Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.

Although few in the crowd said they knew Evans or his family, they turned out anyway to show their respect.

Pallbearers from the U.S. Capitol Police, left, process past Massachusetts state police, right, as they approach St. Stanislaus Kostka Church before a funeral Mass for William
Pallbearers from the U.S. Capitol Police, left, process past Massachusetts state police, right, as they approach St. Stanislaus Kostka Church before a funeral Mass for William "Billy" Evans, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Adams, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

”This is what small towns do,” said Adams resident Jim Dynes.

Evans, 41, was killed April 2 when he and another Capitol Police officer, standing in front of a steel barricade near the Russell Senate Office Building, were struck when a driver intentionally rammed the barrier, authorities said. The other officer survived. Police shot and killed the driver.

Evans is the second Capital Police officer to die in the line of duty this year. Officer Brian D. Sicknick died following the Jan. 6 riots, when supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed Congress.

A ceremony for Evans Tuesday at the Capitol Rotunda included a eulogy by President Joe Biden. Evans laid in state in a flag-draped coffin — one of highest honors granted a private citizen, and one usually reserved for presidents, congressional leaders and military heroes. Several members of Congress also paid their respects.

The hundreds who stood in the rain in Adams came out to do the same.

Dynes stood under a storefront overhang with Starr and Patricia Baker more than 30 minutes before the funeral procession passed by.

When the hearse carrying Evans’ body drove slowly down the street, on its way from the Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church to Bellevue Cemetery, Dynes and the Bakers left the overhang’s protection to stand in the rain by the side of the road.

Members of the Massachusetts state police, below, line the street as mourners for the late U.S. Capitol Police officer William "Billy" Evans, depart St. Stanislaus Kostka Church following a funeral Mass, in Adams, Mass., Thursday, April 15, 2021.
Members of the Massachusetts state police, below, line the street as mourners for the late U.S. Capitol Police officer William "Billy" Evans, depart St. Stanislaus Kostka Church following a funeral Mass, in Adams, Mass., Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“We’re here to support his family,” said Patricia Baker.

None of them knew Evans or his family. Dynes said he knew of Evans’ late father, and heard he was a terrific bowler. But knowing or not knowing them was beside the point, Patricia Baker said.

“All I know is what happened is really tragic,” she said. “This guy was all about helping everyone — and he lost his life doing it.”

At the other end of Park Street, across from the town post office, Kim Peters stood on the side of the road under an umbrella as the funeral procession rolled by. She said she had also been in North Adams Wednesday night, when the hearse arrived at the funeral home after Evans’ coffin was flown from Washington, D.C. to Bradley International Airport.

Coming out Wednesday night, and in the rain Thursday, was just something she had to do to show her support. “We’re a close town, a close-knit town,” she said.

Evans, a native of North Adams, grew up in Clarksburg and graduated from Drury High School in 1998. He attended Western New England College, then the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and became an officer with the Capitol Police in March 2003.

A hearse carrying the coffin of the late U.S. Capitol Police officer William "Billy" Evans, left, drives past people holding flags while escorted by motorcycles though Adams, Mass., following a funeral Mass for Evans, Thursday, April 15, 2021.
A hearse carrying the coffin of the late U.S. Capitol Police officer William "Billy" Evans, left, drives past people holding flags while escorted by motorcycles though Adams, Mass., following a funeral Mass for Evans, Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood, who taught criminal justice courses at Western New England University, recalled having Evans in one of her classes years ago. When she learned he had a connection to the university, and saw his photo, she remembered his smile.

“Any time a police officer is killed in the line of duty it hurts, but even more so when it hits so close to home,” Clapprood said Thursday. “I pray for his family and thank Officer Evans for his dedicated service and obeying his oath by putting innocent lives ahead of his own. Rest in peace Billy.”

Springfield police sent four officers and had cruisers in the procession.

Officers from departments across the state, including the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police, attended. About 50 police motorcycles escorted the hearse to the cemetery.

At the end of the church service, which was closed to the press, dozens of police officers and state troopers stood at attention as a pipe and drum corps played and the coffin was carried to the hearse.

In the history of the Capitol building, only six private citizens have lain in state in the Rotunda, and four of them were members of the Capitol Police. They are Evans and Sicknick, and officers Jacob Chesnut and John Gibson, who were killed by a gunman inside the capitol in 1998.

The other two are the Rev. Billy Graham and civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

Evans is survived by two children, Logan and Abigail, their mother Shannon Terranova, his mother Janice Evans, and a sister, Julie Kucyn. He was buried at Bellevue Cemetery in Adams where his father, Howard Evans, is also buried.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit masslive.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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