A Marine is in police custody, charged with second-degree murder and accused of fatally stabbing a fellow Marine. The early Saturday fight at Marine Barracks Washington reportedly began when the suspect used a gay slur to refer to the victim, Washington D.C. police tell the AP.
Police said the suspect, Michael Joseph Poth, lives at the barracks. Poth, 20, allegedly used a pocketknife to stab Philip Bushong once in the chest. Bushong, 23, who was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., died at a hospital. Poth has been charged with second-degree murder.
Marine Capt. John Norton, a Marine Barracks Washington spokesman, said Bushong's death is "obviously a tragedy" and said the Marines are cooperating with local authorities. Police said they believe the two men did not know each other before the fight.
More details at the Washington Post:
On Saturday night and Sunday, Bushong’s friends struggled to comprehend an act of violence that they said appeared to stem from something trivial and senseless. Authorities have said that one witness heard Poth use an anti-gay slur during the argument between the two men. Bushong’s friends said Bushong was not gay, nor was he homophobic. "You could have called him gay, and he wouldn’t have cared," said Nishith Pandya, 28. "He would have laughed."
Bushong's murder becomes the most recent in a series of high-profile violent incidents involving Marines and gay victims. In June 2010, two Marines were charged with battery after beating a gay man so viciously that he was left unconscious on the street. Both suspects claimed "unwanted" verbal advances.
In December 2009, 26-year-old former Marine Michael J. Griffin admitted to fatally stabbing Don Belton, the distinguished Black gay writer and beloved Indiana University professor. Griffin claimed "gay panic" and that Belton seduced him.
In June 2009, 29-year-old Navy Seaman August Provost III, who was gay and out to family and some co-workers, was brutally murdered at the sentry station at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Provost was shot three times, had his hands and feet bound, his mouth gagged, and body burned. A fellow seaman was arrested the same night, charged one month later and committed suicide while in custody.