Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., was in his home state Monday paying respects to the family of former intern Kevin Sutherland, who was stabbed to death on July 4 in Washington, D.C.
Sutherland, a 24-year-old American University graduate, worked in Himes' congressional office as an intern from September to December 2013. He recently began working as a digital strategist for New Blue Interactive, a new media strategy firm specializing in Democratic campaigns. On July 4, Sutherland was stabbed on a Red Line train as it approached the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station. Sutherland died from his injuries before paramedics could reach him. Police arrested Jasper Spires Monday on a first-degree murder charge.
After spending an hour at the home of Sutherland's parents Monday, Himes told Roll Call he knows them well. Kevin's father, Douglas Sutherland, runs the local Fairfield County chapter of the progressive grass-roots group Democracy for America.
"I'm shocked by the loss of someone so selfless, humble and dedicated to making the world a better place," Himes said in a phone interview. "[The Sutherlands] are having a rough time, but considering they've lost their only son, they're astoundingly put together."
Himes first met Kevin when he was a teenage volunteer for Himes' 2010 congressional campaign.
"Kevin was the guy who had a feel for the underdog," Himes said. "He was shy and sensitive. While other teenage boys were talking about cars, girls and sports, he was being motivated by being physically involved [in politics]. His involvement in politics wasn't a hobby. It was his way of trying to make the world a better place."
For his former colleagues, Sutherland's death has been a huge blow.
Mark Henson, Himes' chief of staff, described him as a "bright, passionate, incredibly committed and hardworking young man."
"He was very eager to be a part of the process and in helping out as he could," Henson added.
The congressman's legislative assistant, Justin Meuse, who coordinated Sutherland's internship program, remembers Sutherland fondly.
"He was an all-around great guy, thoughtful, kind and gentle," Meuse said. "He was very cerebral, very shy. I remember sitting down with him two weeks after he'd started with us and he was very excited about getting comfortable with working there."
Sutherland was also an avid trivia fan, his colleagues recalled. Meuse would circulate The Hotline's Wake Up Call newsletter each day, and Sutherland was always the first one to answer the trivia question.
"He was a really smart guy, really intellectually curious," Meuse said. "He really wanted to do some good in this world, and he did manage to do some, but it's tragic that he couldn't continue that mission."