Community members prepare for fallen Minnesota Marine's funeral

January 11, 2019 10:36 PM

In the middle of the night, hundreds of residents across Kittson County lined Minnesota Highway 11 as the body of a 20-year-old Marine was escorted back to his hometown of Karlstad.

Lance Corporal Riley Kuznia, 20, was shot on New Years Day at the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C., where he was stationed. He was taken to a local hospital but later died. Officials say they believe the shooting was accidental.

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Thursday night, Kuznia's body arrived in Fargo and was taken off the plane. Hours later, a mile-long procession of fire trucks and first responder vehicles escorted the hearse into town.

RELATED: Body of Minnesota Marine to return to his hometown

Family and friends lined the street and waited for the arrival that happened just after 12:30 a.m.

Dariann Wikstrom was Kuznia's classmate. She said the homecoming was beautiful but heartbreaking.

"I never expected to have to see it," Wikstrom said. "I never imagined it happening especially this soon after we graduated."

RELATED: Marine from Minnesota fatally shot at barracks in DC

The procession stopped in front of the Kuznia home, where two Marines retired the flag that flew at half staff in front of the house.

"Riley put this flag up when he left and said, 'I'll take it down when I come back,'" said Karlstad native Orlin Anderson.

Kuznia's funeral will be held at Tri-County School in Karlstad on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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