Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

A Tragic Legacy Leaves Its Mark

Despite the whirlwind of events in the past decade, in which Jack Gibson has grown from a 15-year-old with a learner’s permit to a grown man with a career and a mortgage, the anniversary of his father’s death every year is marked with the same sounds that stir up the same memories.

“If you’d hear the bagpipes and see the color guard, you’d understand,” Gibson, 25, said. “There’s nothing like it.”

Gibson is the oldest son of Detective John Gibson, one of two Capitol Police officers shot and killed by a crazed gunman in the Capitol on July 24, 1998.

The younger Gibson, who has his father’s Irish face and friendly demeanor, is now a Capitol Police officer himself, working in the first-responder unit.

“Obviously, I felt a lot closer to things once I put on the uniform,” Jack said. “It’s hard, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Jack is one of three children of Detective Gibson. Kristen, 27, lives in Los Angeles and works as an accountant, and Danny, 24, works for the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer. Their mother, Evelyn, lives in Woodbridge, Va.


July 24, 1998, the day Russell Weston barreled into the Capitol building with a loaded weapon and killed Detective Gibson and Officer Jacob “J.J.” Chestnut, was considered a national tragedy that forever changed security measures in Washington, D.C., and indelibly changed how the Hill is guarded.

For the Gibsons, July 24 is a day of tradition.

For 10 years, the Gibson family and a handful of close friends have driven to Arlington National Cemetery in the morning of July 24 to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before drifting over to John Gibson’s burial site. While the family maintains similar traditions each July 24, the day is anything but routine.

“The same emotions stir up every year,” Jack said. “It doesn’t get any easier.”

Not unlike the children of long-serving Hill employees, Jack Gibson was drawn to the Capitol from an early age because of his father’s 18-year career as a detective. His mother had anxiety about his decision, but Jack was more concerned about receiving special treatment than anything else.

“I didn’t want anyone to give me a break, and I didn’t want to ride anyone’s coattails,” Jack said.

While colleagues hail his worth ethic and attitude on the job, Jack, who majored in criminal justice at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., had plenty of patrons on the Capitol Police force eager to hire another Gibson.

“Once he decided to be a police officer, I was hoping he’d come up here,” said Sgt. Jack DeWolfe, a longtime friend to both John Gibson and his family. “It’s something he doesn’t try to dwell on, but for us old-timers, it’s great to have him here.”

Over the past decade, DeWolfe has served as the Gibsons’ liaison to the Capitol Police. He describes the role as a “buffer” between the family and police department, but DeWolfe’s attachment to the Gibsons is as strong as his Massachusetts accent.

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