Marine Faces Murder Charge in New Year's Day Shooting Death at 8th and I

This 2017 photo provided by Morgan Kuznia shows her brother Riley Kuznia at his Marine graduation ceremony in San Diego. (Morgan Kuznia via AP)
This 2017 photo provided by Morgan Kuznia shows her brother Riley Kuznia at his Marine graduation ceremony in San Diego. (Morgan Kuznia via AP)

A Marine is facing charges in the shooting death of Marine Lance Cpl. Riley Kuznia on New Year's Day at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., military officials announced this week.

Lance Cpl. Andrew Johnson is scheduled to appear at an Article 32 preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 on charges of murder, manslaughter and failure to obey a lawful general order, according to a Marine Corps press release.

Officials said Thursday the investigation into Kuznia's death remains open "pending additional investigative actions and appropriate disposition of the charges."

The charges against Johnson are preferred, a status under the Uniform Code of Military Justice similar to an indictment in civilian court. He remains on duty and is not in pre-trial confinement, a Marine Corps spokeswoman said.

Kuznia died early Jan. 1 from a gunshot wound. According to a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department report released immediately following the shooting, an unidentified person had been "handling a firearm" when Kuznia, who was on duty at the time, was shot.

Marine Corps officials later said that the unnamed person was a Marine and the shooting occurred inside the barracks. The Marine, now identified as Johnson, was relieved of his guard duties and reassigned to administrative tasks while the investigation continued.

The investigation initially was classified by police as a death investigation but later it was transferred as a criminal case to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, where it remains open.

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"A complete and thorough investigation was conducted following this tragic incident," Col. Donald Tomich, the Marine Barracks Washington commanding officer, said in a release. "We initiated immediate actions within Guard Company to ensure proper policies and procedures are maintained and strictly followed."

The charges against Johnson were first reported in Marine Corps Times.

According to a charge sheet cited by Marine Corps Times, Johnson was informed of the charges against him on June 14. He has been accused of improperly clearing his pistol in the wrong area without a supervisor around Jan. 1, and he also faces charges of being derelict in his duties for violating his company’s firearms handling procedures.

This would include allegedly removing his pistol from its holster “while dancing” on Nov. 25, 2018, and on Dec. 31, 2018, allegedly removing his pistol from its holster, chambering a round and saying “Oh, you’re going to a party. F--- this s---,” according to the charge sheet.

From 2013 to 2018, the Marine Corps reported 54 cases of negligent discharges that resulted in the deaths of three on-duty and three off-duty Marines, according to a safety bulletin issued by the service. Between fiscal 2016 and late October, Marines lost more than 1,700 days of work due to negligent discharges.

Last year, a service member standing guard at Marine Barracks Washington suffered non-threatening injuries as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a separate incident. In 2013, another Marine was killed at the Barracks as the result of a gunshot.

Following his death, Kuznia, from Karlstad, Minnesota, was described by Tomich as " a highly driven and goal-oriented Marine whose positive attitude set the example here at the barracks."

On Thursday, Tomich said the barracks leadership remains committed to supporting Kuznia's family as the legal process will "undoubtedly reopen some wounds."

"Time does not ease the pain of their loss or make dealing with this any easier for them, and our thoughts and prayers remain with them. They are a part of the Marine Barracks Washington family," he said.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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