NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WTEN) — The body of the Capitol police officer who was killed after a man rammed a car into a barrier at the U.S. Capitol has been returned to his hometown in Western Massachusetts for his funeral and burial Thursday.
Hundreds of North Adams residents came together Wednesday on Main Street to honor and pay their respects to officer Billy Evans. Family and friends of Evans said his humor and courage will live on forever.
“We didn’t know Bill directly, but we all knew him. He was here in this town, and will always be a part of North Adams,” said Marie Harpen, a North Adams resident.
North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard said the turnout spoke volumes.
“I think the best thing you say about the communities impact is by looking up and down the street to see hundreds of people. It is amazing to see the way the community has come out. They have shown love and support to officer Evans family,” said Bernard.
As first responders processed through the city, the community held candles and flashlights to light Evans way back home.
“People wanted to welcome, thank and provide their love and support to those who are hurting,” said Bernard.
Evans was a native of North Adams and a graduate of Drury High School. Diane Burdick went to school and graduated with Evans. She said his laugh and sense of humor was infectious.
“He was the epitome of the jokester, you would find him always joking around with his friends. Then when it was time to snap to it, he got right to his instrument and played the tunes he needed too. But he was always good for a good laugh,” said Burdick.
Evans lay in honor Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda, where President Joe Biden in a eulogy said he was “defined by his dignity, his decency, his loyalty and his courage.”
The 41-year-old was killed on April 2 when a vehicle rammed into him and another officer at a barricade just 100 yards from the Senate side of the Capitol. Evans was an 18-year veteran of the Capitol Police.
The driver, Noah Green, 25, came out of the car with a knife and was shot to death by police. Investigators believe Green had been delusional and increasingly having suicidal thoughts.
The second officer was seriously injured.
Evans’ family released a statement that said his death “left a gaping void” in their lives “that will never be filled.”
Billy was the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for. His death has left a gaping void in our lives that will never be filled.
The absolute most important thing in his life was his two children, Logan and Abigail. His most cherished moments were those spent with them — building with Lego, having lightsaber duels, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, and recently finishing the Harry Potter series. He was always so eager to show how proud he was of everything they did. Any opportunity to spend time with his children brightened both their lives and his. Their dad was their hero long before the tragic events of last week.
While family was always first, Billy had the open, welcoming personality that led him to make friends with anyone he met. He relished bringing people together and making sure everyone felt included and had a good time. The countless testimonials that we have heard from people who knew him capture the warm, funny, and caring person we loved.
Billy was proud to be a United States Capitol Police Officer. His colleagues from the North Barricade were the people he spent so many hours with, and their friendship was one of the best parts of his job. We hold them in our hearts, as we know they acutely share our grief.
Our family is grateful for the immense level of support we have received from USCP in the darkest moment of our lives. The outpouring of support we have received from the law enforcement community from around the country and world both humbles us and serves as a testament to Billy’s sacrifice and dedication to the mission of which he was charged.
We appreciate the level of privacy we have received so far and ask for your continued respect during this difficult time.THE FAMILY OF OFFICER WILLLIAM “BILLY” EVANS
A private funeral mass was scheduled for Thursday at Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church in Adams with burial at Bellevue Cemetery, where he will be buried beside his father, Howard. Residents can pay their respects by gathering on Park Street in Adams at 1 p.m. for the funeral procession, according to a statement from the town.
Evans is survived by his wife and two young children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.