(WJW) – He liked cool cars and making people laugh, but most of all he loved being a United States Marine.
The family of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Austin Schwenk, a Northeast Ohio teenager, shot and killed in the barracks at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, are sharing memories of their son, his dreams, and accomplishments.
“He was so proud of being a Marine. Ever since he could speak, he has wanted to be a Marine,” said Kassandra Christison, Schwenk’s mother.
Kassandra and Edward Christison, proudly describe their son and stepson Monday evening.
Schwenk was a 2022 graduate of Riverside High School in Painesville. His junior and senior years he attended part-time at the Auburn Career Center, working on cars. He even had a part-time job at Conrad’s Tire in Painesville, where employees praised his work ethic.
He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, enjoying the military career he had pursued his whole life.
“He was set to deploy next year and we were gonna go down to see him for the 4th of July and that’s when we were gonna see him on base for the first time, but he was supposed to come home for Christmas this year,” explained his mother.
“No matter what he was doing, he could make anyone laugh. No matter what the situation was, he was always silly,” said stepfather Edward Christison.
Around 2: a.m. Thursday, the Christisons received a knock on the door. Through her ring camera, Kassandra sees a man in uniform.
“I remember opening it and wondering ‘Why is Austin knocking on the door, he has a key,” said explained.
But it was Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Laroche, there to inform the family that Austin was shot and killed on base the night before. His mother says for the next few minutes, everything else was a blur for her.
“To be the one to knock on the door is very difficult, but it’s an honor,” said Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Laroche, 3rd battalion, 25th Marines based in Brook Park.
Offering condolences, Riverside Local Schools provided FOX 8 with a copy of the 2022 Military Signing Ceremony, honoring graduating students going off to military service.
“I joined the Marines because I have grown up around the Marines. My father was a Marine and he’s always given me a reason to look up to him. I chose the Marines for the simple fact that it would give me the discipline and leadership that I will be able to use later in my life,” Schwenk said during the video.
“Do you know anything about what happened?” asked FOX 8 reporter Kevin Freeman.
“Nothing we can really talk about,” responded his mother.
Marine investigators say a fellow Marine is in custody, suspected of playing a role in Austin’s death, but haven’t given specifics.
“When you lose a Marine, when you lose a fellow brother…to know how Austin let the world and to know the circumstances, just that much more difficult,” said an emotional Laroche.
Kassandra hangs on to memories, like her favorite picture of Austin, sitting in front of a sports car during a senior photo shoot.
“His two greatest accomplishment in his life was being a Marine and running the 24 four years in a row.”
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, is investigating the murder.