(NewsNation) — Brent Renaud, an acclaimed filmmaker, was killed Sunday by Russian forces in Ukraine. The veteran journalist was on the ground reporting on refugees when his vehicle was hit at a checkpoint in Irpin, just outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
“He wasn’t a war junkie. He believed in the whole process of telling stories about the human condition.
He always focused on stories of people who are affected,” said journalist Jeff Newton.
Newton said his friend was just that: hands on. He says he’s covered many war conflicts with Renaud and says his passion trumped the risks.
“Its part of the byproduct of what we do. There’s a risk in telling these stories, but it’s very difficult to tell those stories well if you’re on a rooftop every time. You have to get amongst the people,” he said.
The details of Renaud’s death were not made immediately clear by Ukrainian authorities, but American journalist Juan Arredondo said the two were traveling in a vehicle toward the Irpin checkpoint when they were both shot. Arredondo, speaking from a hospital in Kyiv, said that Renaud was hit in the neck.
“That’s the nature of the beast and he knew that,” Newton added.
Newton says what he will remember most about Renaud is his heart.
“He was kind. He cared about humanity. He was very much an everyman and that’s why he worked so hard to tell those stories because it was in his DNA,” Newton said.
“[The New York Times] is deeply saddened to learn of the death of an American journalist in Ukraine, Brent Renaud,” Cliff Levy, the deputy editor in chief of The Times, posted Sunday. “Brent was a talented photographer and filmmaker, but he was not on assignment for [The Times] in Ukraine.”
Levy went on to say that Renaud had contributed to The Times in the past, most recently in 2015. Renaud’s Times press badge had been issued for an assignment “many years ago,” according to a statement from the outlet.
Renaud and his brother, Craig, are award-winning “documentary filmmakers, television producers, and journalists living and working in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas” according to their website. They say their projects have also covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violence in Mexico, and the earthquake in Haiti.
The brothers also founded the Little Rock Film Festival and the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute, according to an IMDb biography for Brent Renaud.