ad info

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Heroic officer Gibson laid to rest at Arlington

'He saved many lives. He's lost his own'

July 30, 1998
Web posted at: 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After passing along streets and under overpasses lined with somber mourners holding American flags, the body of slain U.S. Capitol Police Detective John Gibson was laid to rest Thursday afternoon in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery.

"He saved many lives. He's lost his own," explained 11-year-old Thomas Holman as he watched the funeral procession, dressed in his Boy Scout uniform.

Gibson and fellow officer Jacob Chestnut were shot to death last Friday afternoon while trying to stop alleged gunman Russell Weston Jr. from storming into the Capitol. They were the first Capitol police officers to die in the line of duty.

After a morning funeral at a Catholic church in suburban Virginia, four motorcycle officers led a hearse carrying Gibson's flag-covered casket on a slow and deliberate 25-mile procession through Washington.

A friend remembers a fallen hero
Windows Media 28K 56K

5.5 MB / 1 min 12 sec. / 240x180
QuickTime movie
Please enable Javascript

The entourage moved past the west front of the building he gave his life to protect, so on-duty colleagues could say goodbye.

Motorcade stretches 14 miles

Thousands of police officers in cruisers and motorcycles followed the hearse. At one point, the procession -- which officials said stretched an amazing 14 miles -- passed under an arch created by ladders from two fire trucks, with a giant American flag hanging from the arch.

The procession turned back into Virginia for the burial at Arlington. Although the cemetery is normally reserved for members of the U.S. military, special permission was granted for Gibson, who is not a veteran, to be buried there because of the nature of his sacrifice.

Gibson's hearse passes by the Capitol  

Gibson's casket was eased onto a platform by nine uniformed pall bearers. After a rifle-firing salute, Capitol police helicopters flew over the cemetery in the military's "missing man" formation. Buglers played "Taps," and the flag adorning the coffin was folded and given to Gibson's widow, Evelyn.

As bagpipes played, she and the couple's daughter and two sons placed roses on the casket, before turning to go.

'In my heart forever'

Earlier, about 1,000 police officers from the United States and Canada crowded into the sanctuary of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in suburban Lake Ridge, Virginia, for the funeral service.

"John, my best friend, I love you, I miss you," said Jack DeWolfe, supervisor of special agents for the Capitol police, in an emotional eulogy. "You will be in my heart forever."

Chestnut's family attended Gibson's funeral, just as Gibson's family plans to attend services for Chestnut on Friday. The families had not met prior to the shooting.

"Together they are making their way through what is a very painful time," said the Rev. Daniel Hamilton during Thursday's service. He urged the mourners to "make John and Jacob's legacy something to endure."

Chestnut's funeral will be held at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. Burial at Arlington will follow.

Overflow crowd listens to service outside

About 100 mourners who couldn't fit inside the church stood outside the building to listen to the service over loudspeakers.

"It's a tragic loss," said Cpl. Terry Dolan, a constable for the House of Commons Security in Canada, the counterpart to the U.S. Capitol Police.

Annette Juran was one of 30 school crossing guards who attended to show support for Gibson's wife, also a crossing guard.

"It's sad, it's really sad," Juran said. "There's no words to describe it."

Weston, the 41-year-old alleged gunman in Friday's shooting, has been charged with one count of killing a federal officer and could face the death penalty if convicted.

The Rimini, Montana, man is being held without bond at D.C. General Hospital, where he is recovering from bullet wounds he suffered in a shoot-out with Gibson.

Correspondent Bruce Morton and Reuters contributed to this report.

Message Board:
Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

related reading from
Enter keyword(s)   go    help


Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.