A U.S. Marine shot to death in his Washington barracks was identified by his mother as Riley Kuznia, 20, of Minnesota.
“With broken hearts we lost a loving son, cherished brother and dedicated Marine. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayer during this difficult time!” wrote Markelle Kuznia in a Facebook post.
“Please use his Facebook account to share all the amazing memories you shared with this goofy kid. Semper fidelis!”
Kuznia appeared to join the Marine Corps in 2017, according to pictures on his Facebook profile, after graduating from Tri-County High School in rural Minnesota in his hometown of Karlstad.
District Superintendent Ryan Baron told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Kuznia, who he taught when he was a math teacher, “was an amazing and very friendly guy.”
He remembered when Kuznia “was talking about going into the Marines.” Baron added, “His mom was really excited too.”
Counselors were called in to the barracks for any staff or students who needed counseling.
“Everybody is friends with everybody,” the superintendent said. “There are still kids here who know him, and he has a sister who is still in school in sixth grade.”
Markelle Kuznia told the Associated Press that her son joined the Marines because “he felt it was his duty.”
The shooting took place inside the Marine compound, known as Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., and “8th and I,” in the nation’s capital on Jan. 1.
A source told Fox 5 that the shooting that left Kuznia dead was accidental and not self-inflicted.
Kuznia was rushed to a nearby hospital but was soon pronounced dead.
The source said that the incident happened during a shift change when weapons are supposed to be unloaded before being passed to the next shift.
With broken hearts we lost a loving son, cherished brother and dedicated Marine. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and…
Marine Corps spokesman Chief Gunnery Sgt. John Jackson confirmed to the Associated Press that the shooting was not self-inflicted.
A police report obtained by USA Today stated that officers arrived at the scene to find one person who had been “handling a firearm” and another who was shot.
The Marine Corps has not officially identified Kuznia as the shooting victim.
“The command’s priorities are to take care of the Marine’s family and friends,” said Col. Don Tomich, the barracks’ commanding officer, in a statement. “We want to ensure these personnel are being provided for during this challenging time.”
The Marine Corps stressed that there was no threat to the public and that the event transpired within the grounds of the barracks.
The Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. is the oldest active post in the Marines.
It was founded by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows.
“Located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C., the Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital,” according to the barracks’ website.
“The Barracks is home to many nationally recognized units, including the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Band, the official Marine Corps Color Guard, and the Marine Corps Body Bearers. It is also the site of the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.”