U.S. Marine Riley Kuznia, 20, of Karlstad, Minnesota was fatally shot while on duty at a barracks in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of family)
WASHINGTON (FOX 9) - A United States Marine from Minnesota died from a gunshot wound early Tuesday morning while on duty at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.
The shooting was reported around 5 a.m. at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., according to U.S. Marine Corps officials. The incident is believed to be an accident that occurred during a shift change, when weapons are supposed to be unloaded before being passed to the next shift, FOX 5 reported.
Family members have identified the victim as Riley Kuznia, 20, of Karlstad, Minnesota. His mom, Markelle Kuznia, said he knew he wanted to be a Marine ever since he was a child.
Riley joined the Marines right after graduating from Tri-County High School in 2017, Markelle said. He signed up for five years and had been in D.C. for close to a year.
He could have joined any branch of the U.S. Military, but he wanted to be a Marine to "push him to limits," Markelle said.
She said Riley had his life all planned out. When he was out of the Marines, he was going to start a construction company and have a family.
Kuznia was stationed at the barracks, where he served as a team leader for his company. In his time with the Marines, he had been awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
"We are truly saddened by this terrible loss," Col. Don Tomich, commanding officer of the Barracks, said. "Riley was a highly-driven and goal-oriented Marine whose positive attitude set the example here at the Barracks. Our thoughts and prayers are with Riley's family and friends and our priority continues to be taking care of them during this tragic time."
Tri-County Public Schools Superintendent Ryan Baron was Riley's high school math teacher. He said Kuznia was heavily involved in athletics, especially hockey.
"I had him in class for four years and just a fun guy," Baron said. "He'd tell a joke here and there and just a good personality, very friendly and very well liked among his classmates."
Baron said Karlstad is a small town where everybody knows everybody. He heard about Riley's death from the a fellow teacher.
"It affects everybody quite hard because everybody knew him," Baron said. "He was just a great kid and very well liked and everybody knows him personally or they're friends [with him], their sibling was a friend with him or they're friends with the parents."
The shooting remains under investigation. The Marines say there is no threat to the public.