NEW ORLEANS – A Marine from Texas survived combat in Iraq only to be murdered in the French Quarter — stabbed to death even as he wore his dress-blue uniform complete with battle commendations pinned to his chest.
Sgt. Ryan Lekosky and his wife were wrapping up an evening celebrating the service’s 235th birthday at a formal ball at the New Orleans Marriott on Canal Street.
“To know you survived some of the deadliest areas of the world … to come home and be killed stateside,” said Capt. Kate Vanden Bossche, a Louisiana spokeswoman for the Marine Corps.
Authorities said Monday they were hunting for a suspect and searching for recordings from surveillance cameras that may have captured the confrontation.
New Orleans police said a preliminary investigation indicates that at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, the 23-year-old Lekosky and his wife were walking along Dauphine Street in the Quarter.
A man allegedly pulled alongside the couple and began shouting inappropriate comments at Lekosky’s wife. She and the heckler launched into some sort of a physical confrontation that Lekosky tried to stop.
“(Lekosky) sustained several stab wounds while trying to break up the fight,” according to the statement released by police.
Officers would not take questions about the stabbing. It is unclear how many people were in the car or exactly what triggered the violence.
Lekosky was assigned to an air station in Louisiana but was born and raised in Corpus Christi.
He was a high school quarterback there, according to his family, and decided not to attend college, joining the service in 2005.
“He fought for our country and came back safe from that,” said his younger sister, Danika Lekosky, who wondered aloud how anyone could attack a service member, especially during a time of war.
She said that he was supposed to have again deployed in November to Afghanistan, but his orders changed.
Lekosky and his wife married quietly a few months ago.
As a result, most family members, including Lekosky’s parents, will meet her for the first time only now, as a military funeral is planned for Corpus Christi, she said.
She said her brother was changed by his military service, and confided that wherever he was, even back in the United States, he felt he had to be constantly on guard to threats around him.
“It was almost like he knew that someday something tragic would happen to him,” she said.