U.S. citizen killed in Libya, State Department official says - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Libyan officials say Texas teacher killed in Benghazi

Posted:
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spokeswoman confirms U.S. citizen was shot, killed in Benghazi
  • She says the State Department is in contact with the victim's family
  • CNN's Nic Robertson: The victim was a teacher whose students are very upset
  • Benghazi is where militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in September 2012

By Elise Labott

American teacher Ronnie Smith has been shot and killed in Benghazi, according to the Facebook page of the international school in Libya where he worked.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the killing and identified the educator as Ronald Thomas Smith II.

"The untimely death of Ronnie Smith has been felt by the whole school community," the International School Benghazi posted on its Facebook page. "He was a much loved teacher who supported students in their learning and always had time to help when asked. Ronnie was a professional who gave his time freely and without question. We do not understand why this has happened and it is extremely difficult for his students and his colleagues to accept."

The page was full of comments from Smith's students and those who knew him, praising him as a dedicated educator.

"Mr. Smith was an exceptional teacher, my sons broke into tears," Bint Altayar wrote. "They love him so much, they always mention his sense of humor and kindness. We are very sorry for his death. This is a tragedy, he and everyone in Libya (Libyan and non Libyan) don't deserve this. I think every foreign teacher should leave until Libya is safe."

Smith exemplified "respect, optimism, cooperation, team work," posted Noor Hewaidi. "He believed in his students, and that's the greatest gift any teacher can grant a child. And we're thankful for that. Let's continue to live by his principles, let's finish the job he started."

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that officials are reaching out to family members and providing "appropriate consular assistance."

She told media that the State Department offers condolences.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama has been briefed on the matter. Carney said that no one has taken responsibility for the death.

"We look to the Libyan government to thoroughly investigate this killing," Carney said.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones tweeted: "Libya's enemies will not succeed in driving away her friends" and "My heart goes out to the family of the American school teacher murdered today in Benghazi."

Harf said there would be no further comment for now and referred questions to Libyan authorities.

Reports of the slaying, including a story filed by Reuters on Thursday, said that gunmen killed an American chemistry teacher working at an international school in Benghazi.

Reuters cited medical and security sources.

"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why. He was so sweet with everyone," Adel al Mansouri, the director at the school in Benghazi, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the killing, Reuters said. CNN is working to get details on the incident.

Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, is where militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in September 2012, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

More than two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, the Libyan government has been struggling to control the country, which is awash in weapons and armed groups. The security situation has deteriorated over the past year, especially in Benghazi, which was the cradle of the 2011 revolution.

The United States blames one of the armed groups, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, for the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

  • Basketball Team Shows Support for Coach Battling Parkinson's Disease

    Basketball Team Shows Support for Coach Battling Parkinson's Disease

    If you know anyone who's battled Parkinson's Disease, you know how difficult the disease is. On Saturday, dozens of people raised awareness and money for research to help those who are living with Parkinson's right here in the Coastal Bend. Bright and early, kayak races were held at Billish Park on Padre Island. The event is called Paddle for Parkinson's. The money raised will help support local people who are battling the disease such as "Coach K" who coaches high school basketball in Port...More >>
    If you know anyone who's battled Parkinson's Disease, you know how difficult the disease is. On Saturday, dozens of people raised awareness and money for research to help those who are living with Parkinson's right here in the Coastal Bend. Bright and early, kayak races were held at Billish Park on Padre Island. The event is called Paddle for Parkinson's. The money raised will help support local people who are battling the disease such as "Coach K" who coaches high school basketball in Port...More >>
  • Pet Owner Arrested, Accused of Cutting off Dog's Leg

    Pet Owner Arrested, Accused of Cutting off Dog's Leg

    New developments this weekend in connection with an animal cruelty case we've been tell you about. Police say they have arrested the pet's owner who is accused of cutting off the dog's leg. 48 year old Steven Mulligan has been charged with animal cruelty and is in jail in lieu of a $25,000 dollar bond. The dog's name is Bugsy. Investigators say Mulligan, in an attempt to deal with an infection in the dog's leg, gave the dog a human pain killer, and then proceeded to cut it off. The director ...More >>
    New developments this weekend in connection with an animal cruelty case we've been tell you about. Police say they have arrested the pet's owner who is accused of cutting off the dog's leg. 48 year old Steven Mulligan has been charged with animal cruelty and is in jail in lieu of a $25,000 dollar bond. The dog's name is Bugsy. Investigators say Mulligan, in an attempt to deal with an infection in the dog's leg, gave the dog a human pain killer, and then proceeded to cut it off. The director ...More >>
  • Police Successfully Prevent a Woman from Jumping off the Harbor Bridge

    Police Successfully Prevent a Woman from Jumping off the Harbor Bridge

    Some tense moments for Corpus Christi Police as they tried to prevent a woman from jumping off the top of the Harbor Bridge. It happened around 4 Saturday afternoon, when police say a 47 year old woman stepped over the rail and attempted to commit suicide. Police quickly responded and closed off several lanes of the Harbor Bridge. The officers called in the hostage negotiation team and had the Marina Patrol shut down the Port of Corpus Christi for a brief time. Fire fighters assisted in tryi...More >>
    Some tense moments for Corpus Christi Police as they tried to prevent a woman from jumping off the top of the Harbor Bridge. It happened around 4 Saturday afternoon, when police say a 47 year old woman stepped over the rail and attempted to commit suicide. Police quickly responded and closed off several lanes of the Harbor Bridge. The officers called in the hostage negotiation team and had the Marina Patrol shut down the Port of Corpus Christi for a brief time. Fire fighters assisted in tryi...More >>