American Ronnie Smith, Benghazi School Teacher, Killed While Running

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 07:15 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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American chemistry teacher Ronnie Smith who was working in Benghazi was shot and killed while out for a jog Thursday, NBC News reported.

Smith, 33, was just days away from returning to the United States to spend the holidays with his family, NBC said. He had been teaching at International School Benghazi for 18 months.

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Before moving to Benghazi, Smith was a member of the staff at the Austin Stone Community Church in Texas. The church released a statement confirming Smith’s death, and said, “Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.”

A student in Benghazi told NBC News that Smith was an “amazing person.”

“After everything that happened in Libya, we were losing hope and he was the only one who was supporting us, motivating us, telling us that as long as we studied everything would be OK,” 18-year-old Yomna Zentani told NBC. “He was the silver lining. He chose to come here and help us and risk his life.”

The Associated Press reported that no one has claimed responsibility for Smith’s death. A State Department spokesperson said a travel warning has been in effect for Benghazi since June because of “instability and violence.”

Last week, militants and the Libyan army fought in Benghazi, AP said, and at least nine people died. The unstable city was the site of the Sept. 11, 2012, consulate attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three Americans.

AP said Smith’s wife and young son were not in Libya at the time of the shooting.

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