A 23-year-old Marine mortarman was stabbed and killed in Waikiki, Hawaii early Saturday morning, following a verbal altercation that escalated to violence.

Sgt. William Brown, who hailed from Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, has been characterized as a “beloved member” of his unit by fellow Marines following his murder over the weekend.  According to local media reports, an argument between Brown and one or more assailants broke out at the corner of Kalakaua Ave. and Royal Hawaiian Ave. around 1 a.m. Saturday.  Soon thereafter, Brown was stabbed.  He was listed in critical condition upon arriving at the hospital, but died soon therafter.

“Sergeant Brown was a beloved member of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines who had been with the unit for five years,” Lt. Col. Steven Eastin, battalion commander, 3rd battalion, 3rd marines, said in a statement. “He had qualities we value in our Marine non-commissioned officers. His death is tragic and the battalion joins his family in grief. He will always be loved and remembered.”

21-year-old Brad Paul Aliksa was taken into custody following the incident, as well as a 16-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl.  Aliksa is said to have been charged with second degree murder, but the involvement of the two teens has not been related to the media, and it’s possible that they may have been released along with some six other teenagers who were arrested for other offenses in the area before being released.

According to police, Brown had been stabbed multiple times in the chest.  A crowd of people were said to be at the scene of the altercation, but they reportedly fled before law enforcement arrived.  There has been no official confirmation as to whether the six to eight teenagers taken into custody were considered witnesses, accomplices, of if they were arrested for unrelated reasons, but at least two of the teens are said to have been involved.

“It was random, a senseless act of violence that shouldn’t have happened,” friend Elijah Estrada said of the Marine that died on Saturday.  “He always put a smile on everyone’s face because he always had a smile on his face.  He didn’t let anything hold him down or break him down, he would push through.”

Brown was stationed Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), formerly known as Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.  The installation boasts some 10,000 Marines and family members and plays an important role in America’s Pacific defense strategy.  It is home to the 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group 24, Combat Logistics Battalion 3 (CLB-3) 3rd Radio Battalion, and the Navy’s Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2.