As National Guard troops remain stationed in Washington, D.C., more than two months after a riot on Capitol Hill, a growing number of Republican lawmakers are demanding a justification.
In addition to the argument that there is no clear evidence of a further security threat, the mission now includes the tragic death of a 26-year-old guardsman deployed to the nation’s capital.
“Apparent medical emergency”
A soldier identified as Spc. Justin Grennell, serving with the New York National Guard, was reportedly found unresponsive in his hotel room last week and was declared dead after attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Reports indicate his death remains under investigation by local law enforcement.
Stars & Stripes confirmed the death in a report published on Thursday, though the deceased was not identified since his next of kin had not yet been notified.
According to that article, the off-duty soldier was discovered in his room at the Marriot hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue — about one mile from the Capitol complex.
A D.C. Joint Task Force spokesman indicated that the individual died of an “apparent medical emergency,” but no further details were provided.
“Our thoughts are with his family”
New York National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Ray Shields issued a statement lauding the deceased as a soldier who “stepped forward and enlisted” when called to act.
“All of us in the New York National Guard are deeply saddened by the death of this young soldier,” the statement added.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, Shields noted that the soldier “selflessly deployed” to D.C., adding: “Our thoughts are with his family in this most trying time.”
Local reports described Grennell as a Marcellus, New York, native who had been part of the state’s 540-troop Guard detachment deployed to the nation’s capital to bolster security at the Capitol following the civil unrest earlier this year.
After first enlisting in 2014, Grennell went on to earn multiple awards for his service and participated in the Guard’s mission to support the pandemic response across the state between April and June. He was the recipient of several commendations, including the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.