A Marine security guard assigned to Marine Barracks Washington in D.C. has been charged with murder, among other offenses, in the New Year’s Day shooting death of Lance Cpl. Riley S. Kuznia, according to a charge sheet.
According to details in the charge sheet, obtained by Marine Corps Times through a government records request, Lance Cpl. Andrew Johnson allegedly shot Kuznia in the head after pointing a pistol at him and pulling the “trigger in jest."
Kuznia was identified in the charge sheet by his initials.
Johnson also was charged with negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter in Kuznia’s death, with murder being the most serious offense detailed in the charge sheet.
Capt. Katie Kochert, a Marine spokeswoman, said the charges at this stage are only preferred, and that Johnson will face an Article 32 hearing “where an impartial preliminary hearing officer will make a recommendation to the commander regarding the appropriate forum of adjudication.”
At the Article 32 hearing a preliminary hearing officer will make recommendations to the commander regarding whether Johnson will go before a court-martial or receive administrative action. During that hearing, some or all the charges could be dropped.
The preliminary hearing is slated to take place at Lejeune Hall aboard the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base on Aug. 22, a Marine official said.
Jeff Houston, a spokesman with Naval Criminal Investigative Service, told Marine Corps Times on Wednesday that Johnson was not being held in pre-trial confinement at this time.
Kuznia’s death may be the result of Johnson’s alleged disregard for the D.C. Marine barracks’ firearms handling procedures. Johnson was hit with multiple charges of being “derelict” in his duties for violating the Guard Company’s firearms handling procedures.
The charge sheet details that around Nov. 25, 2018, Johnson allegedly removed his pistol from the holster “while dancing." And then again, around Dec. 31, 2018, Johnson allegedly removed his pistol from the holster, chambered a round and said “Oh, you’re going to a party. F*ck this shit," or similar phrase, the charge sheet reads.
Johnson also was hit for allegedly improperly clearing his pistol in the wrong area without a supervisor around Jan. 1, according to the charge sheet.
Johnson was informed of the charges against him on June 14, according to the charge sheet.
“Marine Barracks Washington remains committed to supporting the deceased Marine’s family as the legal process will undoubtedly reopen some wounds,” Col. Donald J. Tomich, the commander of the D.C. Marine barracks, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
“Time does not ease the pain of their loss or make dealing with this any easier for them, and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Tomich said.
The details of Johnson’s alleged misconduct while assigned to the storied D.C. Marine barracks is the latest in a string of discipline issues and incidents to come to light at the Corps’ oldest active post.
A report from the D.C. Metropolitan Police, obtained by Marine Corps Times through a government records request, detailed that police officers responded to a shooting at the D.C. Marine barracks around 5:05 a.m. on Jan. 1.
The police report detailed that there were two unnamed subjects at the scene of the shooting, one subject “had been handling a firearm,” while the other individual was transported to the Washington Hospital Center.
Kuznia was pronounced dead at 5:59 a.m. on Jan. 1, according to the police report. He was twenty years old.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.