Capitol Police officer dies in blizzard

U.S. Capitol Police Department

A U.S. Capitol Police officer died shoveling snow during the blizzard that dumped two feet of snow on Washington, D.C., and surrounding area this weekend, the agency said on Sunday.

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The officer, Vernon Alston, had a heart attack while he was shoveling snow at his Delaware home, according to the Capitol Police.

Alston, who was 44, was a 20-year veteran of the Capitol Police force who worked in the agency's House division.

Capitol Chief of Police Kim Dine said that Alston will be missed by the police force, which is charged with protecting the U.S. Capitol.

“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,” 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.”

Congressional leaders expressed condolences as well on Sunday.

"I'm saddened to learn that the U.S. Capitol Police ‎has lost one of our own over the weekend as a result of the storm," Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Overnight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes The Trail 2016: Digging up dirt MORE (D-Nev.) said in a statement.

"For twenty years Officer Vernon Alston ‎was a fixture on the Capitol grounds while keeping the community safe," Reid continued. "I am always grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the Capitol Police force and Officer Alston was an exemplar of that. My thoughts are with Officer Alston's family during this difficult time."

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