Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud was killed by Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine, according to Kyiv region police in social media posts on Sunday. Kyiv police said another American journalist was wounded by Russian troops.
In a tweet, Kyiv region police named the 50-year-old American journalist who was killed as Brent Renaud. Police posted a photo of his body and his American passport as evidence, as well as a photo of an outdated New York Times press badge with Brent Renaud's name.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said in a statement that Renaud “paid with his life for attempting to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor," according to a New York Times report.
CNN has been unable to verify which media outlet the American journalists were working for in Ukraine.
The New York Times said in a statement on Sunday, "We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years. Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago."
Some more context: The northern Ukrainian city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, has been the site of substantial Russian shelling in recent days and has seen extensive destruction, according to the Kyiv regional government on Friday.
Brent Renaud was a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and journalist, who lived and worked in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas, according to his biography on the Renaud Brothers website.
With his brother Craig, Renaud spent years "telling humanistic verite stories from the World's hot spots," including projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt, and Libya, according to his website bio. Brent Renaud was a 2019 Harvard Nieman Fellow.
Christof Putzel, a friend and colleague of Renaud, told CNN his passing is a "devastating loss to journalism today."
"I woke up this morning to the news that Brent, long-time best friend, incredible colleague, the best war journalist I think ever existed, finding out about his passing. Brent had this ability to go anywhere, get any story, listen and communicate what was happening to people that others wouldn't otherwise see it. And it is a devastating loss to journalism today," Putzel told Brian Stelter on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday.
Putzel said Renaud was working on a documentary about refugees around the world when the crisis in Ukraine hit. He said that "Brent was on the plane the next day" and covered the plight of refugees from Kyiv into Poland. A post on the Renaud Brothers' Facebook page, dated March 8, urged readers to follow their coverage of the war Ukraine.
Several years ago, Putzel and Renaud won a duPont Award for a story they worked on about guns being smuggled into Mexico from the US. "What I said when we accepted our award was, the only thing bigger than Brent's balls are his heart. And I stand by that. That's what kind of journalist he was," Putzel said.
He said Renaud had a unique ability to make people trust him as he told their stories in places like Iraq and other war zones. "You could sit down and spend a week watching all of Brent's stories over the years back-to-back and just be flabbergasted. The career that he had, his ability to reach people, his ability to capture the humanity behind people's suffering is something I have never seen before, and I was just honored to work with him as long as I did," Putzel said.
The director of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard said on Sunday that the foundation is "heartsick" over the death of American journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine.
"Our Nieman Fellow Brent Renaud was gifted and kind, and his work was infused with humanity. He was killed today outside Kiev, and the world and journalism are lesser for it. We are heartsick," said foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski in a tweet.
The Committee to Protect Journalists on Sunday condemned the killing of Renaud and called for the killers to be brought to justice.
The New York-based organization said in a statement, "U.S. reporter Brent Renaud was shot and killed, and another journalist was injured on Sunday in the city of Irpin, outside of Kyiv, according to a Ukrainian police official and news reports. In denouncing the shooting, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the killers to be brought to justice."
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of U.S. journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. This kind of attack is totally unacceptable, and is a violation of international law,” added the CPJ’s program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna in the statement. “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”