Lance Cpl. Philip Bushong Slain by Fellow Marine

WASHINGTON– Michael Poth, a Marine, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Philip Bushong on Saturday, April 21. According to court documents, Poth, 20, claims Bushong punched him in the head, and that he acted in self defense when he stabbed Bushong around 3 a.m. in a neighborhood near the Marine Barracks in Southeast Washington, D.C., less than a block from the residence of Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant. Police detectives did not notice any wounds on Poth, and he did not request medical treatment.

According to a witness, the two Marines had met on a sidewalk on 8th street and had a verbal altercation. The argument turned violent and the witness overhead Poth call Bushong a gay slur before stabbing him. Bushong, who was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was rushed to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

The commander of the D.C. Police Homicide Branch, Lt. Robert Alder, told the Washington Blade, “From what we know, the argument was not over sexual orientation…and I would say at this time the information that we have appears to show that it was an insult in the heat of their argument and did not have anything to do with any perceived sexual orientation,” he said.

Based on preliminary information from the ongoing investigation, the D.C. police have also not listed the murder as a “hate crime,” which the city defines as committing a “violent act against another person based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or several other factors such as race, religion, or ethnicity.” However, Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes told the Blade in an email, “When things first happen, not all facts are sorted out immediately on the scene.”

The United States Attorney’s office prosecutes most cases in the city involving a violent crime and will make the final determination of whether or not the stabbing will be classified as a “hate crime.”

A preliminary hearing will take place on May 15.

On Sunday, OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT U.S. military personnel and one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world, released 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 repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We look forward to the results of a swift and thorough investigation of this tragic incident.”

  1. Sharon
    April 24, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    this makes me ill.

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