December 6th, 2013
07:37 AM ET

American Teacher Killed in Libya

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.

Smith's killing was not far from the former American consulate where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed almost 15 months ago, reports CNN's Nic Robertson.

"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.

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.

The Interior Ministry has opened an investigation into the incident, according to a statement reported by Libya's state news agency LANA.

It said four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep opened fire on Smith, killing him instantaneously.

"This cowardly act in no way reflects the morals and traditions of the Libyan society," LANA reported the ministry said.

It also reported a statement from the Foreign Ministry, which vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

“Smith may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of random violence that took three other lives in Benghazi Thursday, as the country is caught up in rising militia violence,” reports Robertson.

"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.

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