The Austin community is in mourning today after news that former University of Texas at Austin graduate Ronnie Smith was killed in Libya while jogging. According to KUT, Smith was also a teaching pastor at the Austin Stone Community Church.
The 33-year-old father was a teacher at the International School Benghazi, according to NBC News. According to ABC foreign editor Jon Williams, Smith was preparing to join his wife and son back in the United States for the Christmas holiday.
His students in Benghazi have already gone to Twitter to celebrate the wit and wisdom of their beloved teacher using the hashtag #MrSmithMemories.
#MrSmithMemories when he told us the story of how him and his wife met, and how she was his first and last. <3— R.I.P Ronnie (@Voldemental) December 5, 2013
He was my favourite teacher, made fun of my chemistry skills and I laughed every time. Mr Smith R.I.P— R.I.P Ronnie (@Voldemental) December 5, 2013
Harlem shake in his room during the bake sale #MrSmithMemories— Your mom. (@umyeahidek) December 5, 2013
#MrSmithMemories baked me 2 batches of peanut butter cookies on my birthday and sang happy birthday in arabic— yomna ❁ (@yzentani) December 5, 2013
#MrSmithMemories helping me write my personal statement for uni.. "start with assalamu alekam brothers, this email will self destruct in..."— yomna ❁ (@yzentani) December 5, 2013
#MrSmithMemories He once told me he would stay in Libya even if he had no job. He was here for the experience. There is no better man.— ροττer Δ (@Criminimed) December 5, 2013
#MrSmithMemories he would call is all corny for doing this but we love him— R.I.P Ronnie (@Voldemental) December 5, 2013
The International School Benghazi took to their official Facebook page, saying,
"The untimely death of Ronnie Smith has been felt by the whole school community. 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."
Back here in Austin, UT also released an official statement calling Smith's death, "a tragedy for the campus and our nation." Smith graduated in 2006 with a degree in chemistry.
While no one has taken responsibility for Smith's death, it comes almost 15 months after an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other officials. Both the U.S. and the British governments have warned their citizens against traveling to the country, which, according to The Guardian, is enduring some of the worst violence since 2011 revolution.