Courage under Fire is United States Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund’s gripping personal account that takes readers inside the events leading up to January 6, and provides a detailed and harrowing minute-by-minute account of the attack on the US Capitol, which was valiantly defended in hand-to-hand combat by the US Capitol Police officers who found themselves outnumbered fifty-eight to one.
Courage under Fire draws upon audio recordings, key documents, and government records as it traces Sund’s extraordinary journey from his command post on January 6 to his explosive behind-closed-doors testimony before the January 6 committee.
Steven A. Sund, one of only ten men in history to hold the title of Chief of the US Capitol Police, has coordinated dozens of National Special Security Events, responded to numerous critical incidents and active shooter events, and has protected every living US president. But nothing could have prepared him for the violent attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Three days before the attack, Chief Sund requested the assistance of the National Guard. This request was denied. In preparation for the Joint Session of Congress, Chief Sund directed every available sworn officer to be on duty to protect the Capitol and all of its members and staff.
But it wasn’t enough.
The savage attack that followed was a well-planned and carefully coordinated armed assault on the United States Capitol, involving thousands. The shock and horror of this attack exploded on TV screens worldwide as US Capitol Police officers under Chief Sund’s command found themselves facing a violent siege, hit with pipes, fire extinguishers, boards, and flag poles. Dedicated men and women were knocked unconscious and sprayed with mace and bear spray as live pipe bombs were discovered at the national headquarters of both major political parties.
Finally, multiple police lines were breached. Then the building was breached. The National Guard didn’t arrive until it was much too late. In the end, 150 officers were seriously injured, and nine Americans were dead.
Now, for the first time, Chief Steven Sund has written the definitive inside story of the perfect storm of events that led up to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, a day that rocked the nation and threatened our democracy. As the Capitol descended into chaos, insurrectionists infiltrated and stormed its hallowed halls and democracy was pushed to the brink. Few people realize just how close we came to seeing the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and countless members of Congress beaten, maimed, or killed.
There have been many false reports and outright lies concerning the conduct of the US Capitol Police on January 6, and there has been no accountability for the individuals who bear most of the responsibility for the failures that left the USCP unprepared that day—from the shocking failures in intelligence to the outright stonewalling Chief Sund received from the Pentagon when he repeatedly called for the National Guard’s help, even as the attack on the Capitol was raging.
Two years later, so many questions still remain unanswered: What did the intelligence community know about the plans of the insurrectionists before the attack? Why was the request for the National Guard continually denied and delayed? Why was the nation’s capital so vulnerable?
Forced to take the fall and resign, this is Chief Sund’s chance to answer those questions and to tell the full truth about what really happened on January 6.
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About the Author
Chief Sund is a recognized expert in critical incident management and active shooter preparedness and response. His experience includes being the on-scene incident commander on the 2009 shooting at the National Holocaust Museum, the 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council, and the 2013 active shooter incident at the Washington Navy Yard. In addition, he has handled dozens of criminal barricade and hostage situations. Due to his knowledge and experience, Sund served as an instructor with the United States Secret Service in the area of major events planning and has taught the Incident Command System (ICS) at George Washington University. He received his bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Johns Hopkins University and a master of arts in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also completed the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police and the FBI’s National Executive Institute. Courage under Fire is his first book.
Table of Contents
"10-33" at the Capitol xi
Introduction: Who's Who in Washington, DC 1
The US Capitol Police 2
The Capitol Police Board 4
The Capitol Police Board (CPB) on January 6, 2021 7
Congressional Oversight 8
The Intelligence Agencies 10
The US Military and the National Guard 11
Speaker Nancy Pelosi 14
President Donald Trump 15
President Joe Biden 17
Chapter 1 The Gathering Storm 19
A Country Already Divided 19
Election Day: November 3, 2020 39
Maga I: November 14, 2020 43
Maga II: December 12, 2020 54
Planning for Maga III: January 6, 2121 58
Participants of the January 5 Virtual Meeting: 94
Chapter 2 January 6, 2121, Minute by Minute 100
Chapter 3 Aftermath 188
The Speaker Speaks 189
Testifying before the Senate 219
The Senate Issues its Report 229
The Lasting Effects 234
Chapter 4 What Went Wrong, and Lessons to Learn 239
The FBI 263
The Department of Homeland Security 269
The Capitol Police Board, Oversight Committees, and Congressional Leadership 271
The Department of Defense 278
The United States Capitol Police 295
Chapter 5 Final Thoughts, and Some Questions 306
Chapter 6 Postscript. The January 6 Hearings 318
Police Officer's Prayer 337
About the Author 339
Appendix: List of Initialisms 341
Glossary of Names 343