A Capitol Police officer died Saturday from a heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Delaware as the region was dealt a storm that dumped more than 2 feet of snow in some areas around Washington.
Officer Vernon J. Alston had worked for the department since 1996 and had most recently been assigned to the House division. He was 44 years old.
"The death of Officer Alston is truly a tragic loss for the Alston family and the United States Capitol Police, which in fact is one in the same," Police Chief Kim Dine said in a statement. "Officer Alston was someone who loved his job, and his loss leaves a huge void in the hearts of all of the men and women at the USCP."
In an email to congressional staff, Dine said Alston last reported to work on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former Capitol officer himself, said in a statement Alston had been a fixture on Capitol grounds.
“I am always grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the Capitol Police force and Officer Alston was an exemplar of that,” Reid said. “My thoughts are with Officer Alston's family during this difficult time."
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., also offered condolences.
"During his 20 years in the force, Officer Alston set an example of devotion and professionalism that we should all strive to follow," Ryan said in a statement. "Our prayers are with his family and fellow officers, who are truly our finest. We stand ready to support them in this time of anguish."
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