How Brent Renaud Died: An Injured American Journalist Testifies

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WORLD Conflicts crisis Ukraine

The editorial staff   Published on 16/03/2022 at 00:00, updated on 16/03/2022 at 0025

Ukrainian soldiers evacuate other soldiers during clashes in Irpin, northwest of Kiev (Ukraine), on March 13, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)
Ukrainian soldiers evacuate other soldiers during clashes in Irpin, northwest of Kiev (Ukraine), on March 13, 2022.(ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)

The 50-year-old American documentary filmmaker died on Sunday, March 13, while reporting in Irpin, the scene of violent fighting.

He is the second journalist who died during the war in Ukraine. Brent Renaud, a 50-year-old American documentary filmmaker, was shot dead in Irpin, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, on Sunday, March 13. The Ukrainian authorities quickly accused Russian forces. However, the origin of the shooting, which also injured another American journalist and a Ukrainian civilian, has not yet been determined.

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The journalist was shot in the neck

Brent Renaud died on Sunday at midday in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kiev. He was driving with journalist Juan Arredondo and a Ukrainian civilian, also injured, Danylo Shapovalov, a doctor hired by the Ukrainian forces, who took care of the victims, told AFP.

Brent Renaud "was shot in the neck and was killed instantly," said Danylo Shapovalov. His injured colleague "was rescued", according to evacuation images shared by Paul Ronzheimer, deputy editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Bild, on Twitter.

Russian forces questioned

Questioned by an Italian journalist, who posted the interview on Twitter*, Juan Arredondo, a photographer and teacher at Columbia University School of Journalism (New York), returned to the attack. "We crossed the first point in Irpin. We were going to film the departure of other refugees," he says, from the Kiev hospital where he was taken care of. "We went through a checkpoint, and they started shooting at us. Our driver turned around and they continued to shoot - there were two of us, with my friend Brent Renaud. He was shot."

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Irpin's deputy police chief, Captain Oleksandr Bogai, quoted by the New York Times* accuses Russian forces of shooting at the vehicle. Just like Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior, who said that bren Renaud had "paid with his life for trying to show (...) the cruelty of the aggressor".

"Russian forces in Ukraine must immediately stop all violence against journalists and civilians, and anyone who killed Renaud, whoever he is, will be held accountable," also reacted the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"We are consulting Ukrainians to determine how this happened," Jake Sullivan, U.S. President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor, told CBS*. The origin of the shots has not yet been determined and seems difficult to establish, as the fighting is intense in Irpin. An investigation will be opened, Ukrainian Attorney General Irina Venediktova announced on Facebook.

After this murder, the mayor of Irpin, Oleksandr Markouchine, banned journalists from staying in the city, according to AFP.

A journalist used to war zones

Brent Renaud, a 50-year-old photographer and independent director, is the second journalist who died since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. A Ukrainian public television journalist was killed on March 1 in the Russian bombing of the Kiev television tower. The American documentary filmmaker, the first foreign journalist killed in Ukraine, was "in the region to work on a project" from the video department of Time* magazine, "focused on the global refugee crisis," announced the bimonthly management. His brother, Craig Renaud, told the New York Times that it was the documentary series called Tipping Point.

He had worked on many documentary film projects with his brother Craig. He was spotted in 2005 for his documentary Dope Sick Love, directed with his brother, which was interested in a heroin-sane couple living in New York. The film was nominated for the Emmy Awards. In 2014, the tandem won a Peabody Award* for their documentary "Last Chance High", filmed in a school welcoming students expelled from other schools in Chicago.

Brothers Craig Renaud and Brent Renaud (right), won a Peabody Award in 2015. (JEMAL COUNTESS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA FOR AFP)
Brothers Craig Renaud and Brent Renaud (right), won a Peabody Award in 2015. (JEMAL COUNTESS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA FOR AFP)

Brent Renaud had previously worked in conflict zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, reported the specialized media Filmmaker* in 2013. He had made several documentaries for the New York Times about the refugee crisis, including Haitians expelled from the United States* or children fleeing poverty and insecurity* in Central America.

Concerns for journalists on the ground

Many journalists and media reacted with emotion to the announcement of Brent Renaud's death. The editorial staff of Time magazine is "devastated by the loss" of the journalist. "It is essential that journalists be able to safely cover the ongoing invasion and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine," says the text posted on Sunday*. The New York Times also said it was "deeply saddened to learn of the death of Brent Renaud, a talented director who had contributed for years" to the newspaper. Among the identity documents worn by the documentary filmmaker was an old accreditation card for the New York daily.

The NGO Reporters Without Borders believes that "there is a huge risk for journalists to work on the ground" in Ukraine, warned Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of the NGO, after the reporter's death. On March 1, five people died in the attack on the television tower in Kiev, including a Ukrainian journalist, recalls the International Federation of journalists*. A few days later, journalists from the British channel Sky News were targeted by fire.

* Links followed by an asterisk refer to content in English.

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More : Video About The Shooting that cost the life of US journalist Brent Renaud

Journalist and videographer Brent Renaud, 50, who has worked for the New York Times in the past, died after being hit by shooting in Irpin on Sunday. A colleague who was in the targeted vehicle tells the scene from the hospital where he was taken care of.

The second American journalist who survived a shooting near Kiev this Sunday.
The second American journalist who survived a shooting near Kiev this Sunday. Photo credit screenshot BNO News

The events occurred in Irpin, a city on the northwest edge of Kiev where violent fighting has been taking place for several days between Russian forces, which surround the capital, and the Ukrainian army.

At least two journalists were affected, one of whom, Brent Renaud, died. They were driving with a Ukrainian civilian, also affected, Danylo Shapovalov, a doctor hired by the Ukrainian forces who took care of the victims, told AFP.

From his hospital bed where he was transferred by ambulance, an injured journalist who declares himself of American nationality explains on a video the circumstances of Brent Renaud's death.

According to him, they had just crossed a bridge with the vehicle driven by a Ukrainian and they wanted to film a group of refugees leaving the city. According to him, Brent Renaud was affected in the neck.

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At this stage, it is impossible to know the origin of the shots. Ukrainians assuring that the Russian army, guilty of several bombings in civilian areas in different cities in recent days, is responsible for this.

On February 15, US President Joe Biden warned: "We are not looking for a direct confrontation with Russia, even though I was clear that if Russia targets the Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully". The American official authorities did not react at this stage, shortly before 3 p.m.