Marine kills another Marine near D.C. barracks, police say

April 21, 2012

One Marine allegedly stabbed another Marine to death early Saturday on Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row, near the Marine Barracks and the residence of the Marine commandant.

The Marines got into a fight that began when the suspect called the victim an anti-gay slur, police said.

After the stabbing, Marine guards stationed nearby subdued the suspect and handed him over to D.C. police.

Police say Michael Joseph Poth, 20, used a pocketknife to stab Philip Bushong, 23, once in the chest, killing him.

It happened at 2:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Eighth Street SE, about two blocks from the Eastern Market Metro.

Poth, 20, who lives at the barracks a block away, was charged with second-degree murder.

Bushong, 23, who was based at Camp Lejeune, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Officers found a pocketknife on Poth when they arrested him, police said. Investigators think the men got into a fight on the street, and did not know each other before the incident.

“This is obviously a tragedy and we’re working in concert with local authorities and cooperating with them as necessary,” said Marine Capt. John D. Norton, public affairs officer at Marine Barracks Washington.

Norton did not release information about either Marine, but said Poth was not a member of the honor guard or another ceremonial unit.

Because the killing allegedly involved an anti-gay slur, the D.C. police’s gay and lesbian unit was notified. There was no indication that either man was gay.

“One witness heard a homophobic slur during a verbal altercation that preceded the stabbing,” said homicide Lt. Robert Alder.

D.C. police are taking the lead in the investigation, with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service assisting.

Hours before he was killed, Bushong went to the Ugly Mug bar and restaurant, his usual meeting spot with friends, said the Ugly Mug’s general manager, Brent McCaslin.

McCaslin described Bushong as happy-go-lucky.

“He was a very lighthearted, good young man,” McCaslin said. “He was one of our frequent customers. It’s a sad loss.”

McCaslin hired Bushong last summer to drive a shuttle between his pub and Nationals Stadium on game days. At the time, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks across the street, he said.

“He was an outstanding employee,” McCaslin said. “I never saw him angry. He was always happy. The guys he hung out with were good guys; they were jokesters.”

The block where he was killed is known for its bustling nightlife, with bars and restaurants as well as yogurt and cupcake stores. It is also home to the official residence of the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos.

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