City College student Brent Renaud killed while reporting in Ukraine


Michael Kimber | Wikimedia Commons

Nathan Woo Yang

City College student Brent Renaud, 51, was killed in Ukraine on March 13, while reporting on the Russian invasion in the outskirts of Kyiv.

Brent was working there on a TIME Studios project about the global refugee crisis, according to a statement by Time Magazine. He was in City College’s Master of Fine Arts program for creative writing.

Brent Renaud’s death is the first reported death of a foreign correspondent covering the war in Ukraine.

In a statement, City College President Vince Boudreau called for all to pay respect to Renaud’s life and work and to reflect on the toll the war has taken.

“We mourn the loss of Brent to our community both because we will miss his remarkable presence among us and for the reminder he represents of the deeply personal pain that every life lost, in any conflict, triggers,” Boudreau said. “Let us rededicate ourselves to this mission with renewed urgency … and the too pervasive occasion for violence and human suffering around the world.”

Renaud worked for outlets that included HBO, NBC and The New York Times.

According to Ukrainian authorities, Renaud was killed in the suburb of Irpin, which faced heavy shelling by Russian forces. In an Instagram video, Renaud’s partner, Juan Arredondo, said that Russian troops fired on them at a checkpoint, as they filmed civilians fleeing.

Along with his brother, Craig, Brent Renaud covered the Iraq war, the Haitian earthquake of 2010, cartel violence in México and refugees in Central America. The brothers were winners of a Peabody award for a documentary about a school in Chicago.

Additionally, Renaud was a fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, from 2018 to 2019.

“The world and journalism are lesser for it,” Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski stated. “We are heartsick.”

The death of Brent Renaud prompted a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists, who condemned the killing of Renaud with calls to investigate his death as a war crime.

“This kind of attack is totally unacceptable and is a violation of international law,” CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna said. “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”

In an open letter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his condolences to the family of Brent Renaud. He noted that Renaud took a risk in “documenting human tragedy.”  “With all his courage and determination, he travelled to the most dangerous war zones to film the unprecedented ruthlessness and evil, also inflicted upon our nation by the aggressor state,” Zelensky said.

He also expressed hope that Brent Renaud’s death would “inspire the world to stand up in fight for the forces of light against forces of darkness.”