A Minnesota native and U.S. Marine is dead after being shot while on duty inside his Washington, D.C. barracks.
The U.S. Marine Corps released a statement in which they identified the victim of the shooting as 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Riley Kuznia from Karlstad, Minnesota. Kuznia's mother, Markelle Kuznia shared photos of him on her page, asking for people to share memories of him.
"With broken hearts we lost a loving son, cherished brother and dedicated Marine. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayer during this difficult time! Please use his Facebook account to share all the amazing memories you shared with this goofy kid. Semper fidelis!" she wrote.
She said over the phone that once her son set his mind on something, it wasn't easy to stop him. His becoming a Marine was the same.
"From the time that he was three-years-old, he just knew," she said. "He wanted to join when he was 17 and I told him no. I said I can't do that."
He ended up joining in 2017, serving in what he called the hardest branch.
"That's what he did, he did what he did," Markelle said. "He did what he wanted and did it with a smile on his face."
Kuznia's father Adam Kuznia also said over the phone that his son always had plans.
"He wanted to go to the Marines, be there for five years and come back home and start a family with his girlfriend," Adam said.
Kuznia was stationed at the Barracks where he served as a team leader for Guard Company.
"We are truly saddened by this terrible loss. Riley was a highly driven and goal-oriented Marine whose positive attitude set the example here at the Barracks," said Col. Don Tomich, commanding officer of Marine 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."
An earlier statement from the Marine Corps says the circumstances surrounding the shooting are not yet being released, but did confirm that the wound “was not self-inflicted” and “no threat to local residents exists as this event transpired within the grounds” of the barracks located about a mile southeast of the U.S. Capitol.
Kuznia is from Karlstad, which is Kittson County, at the far northwest tip of Minnesota. His personal decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
The shooting incident remains under investigation.
"The command's priorities are to take care of the Marine's family and friends," said Col. Don Tomich, commanding officer of Marine Barracks. "We want to ensure these personnel are being provided for during this challenging time."
Kuznia graduated from Tri-County High School in 2017. District Superintendent Ryan Baron says Kuznia "was just an awesome kid ... very well liked by his classmates."
He says Riley was crazy about hockey, and played on the district's co-operative hockey team.
Counselors are in this week to help students who are grieving the loss. Those students include Kuznia's sister, who is in the sixth grade. Baron says the Kuznias are an extremely tight-knit family, that does "everything together."