Marine Killed in Possible Hate Crime

Police say suspect, also a Marine, used homophobic slur during Barracks Row stabbing

[Read the updated version of this article here.]

A Marine from Camp Lejeune, N.C., was fatally stabbed in Southeast Washington early Saturday, April 21, following an altercation with another Marine who allegedly used a homophobic slur before attacking the victim.

According to a press release from the Metropolitan Police Department, forwarded by Capt. Edward Delgado of the MPD’s Special Liaison Unit, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU), police from MPD’s First District responded to a stabbing in the 700 block of 8th Street SE, at approximately 2:41 a.m. Saturday. This strip of 8th Street is known as Barracks Row, named for the Marine Barracks on the block, also home to several restaurants and bars.

Upon arrival, police found the victim suffering from a stab wound. Information uncovered during the preliminary investigation indicated the victim and suspected assailant were engaged in a verbal altercation during which the suspect used an anti-gay epithet.

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel transported the victim to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

According to police, the victim has been identified as 23-year-old Philip Bushong. Police said they arrested 20-year-old Michael Joseph Poth of Southeast D.C. Poth has been charged with second-degree murder while armed.

On April 22, OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT U.S. military personnel, issued the following statement:

”We are deeply saddened by the death of Lance Corporal Phil Bushong at the hands of a fellow Marine. We are troubled by the specter that this might have been a hate crime; if so, we anticipate the authorities will pursue it to the fullest extent of the law.

”This is particularly upsetting since, overall, gay and lesbian Marines have been accepted and treated equally in the force since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We look forward to the results of a swift and thorough investigation of this tragic incident.”

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be prosecuting the case.

UPDATE: Appearing in D.C. Superior Court before Judge Karen Howze, Monday, April 23, Poth was held without bond as he awaits his preliminary hearing, which has been scheduled for May 15. 

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com