U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, a Bay Area man, was killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate along with three American security guards on Tuesday, the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
The Consulate was attacked by a group of protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, according to the Associated Press. Stevens, a diplomat and lawyer, was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.
His ties to the Bay Area ran broadly and deeply. Born and raised in Piedmont, Stevens attended Piedmont High School before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982, and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1989.
According to NBC Bay Area, he was the son of retired Marin Symphony cellist Mary Commanday and stepson of San Francisco Classical Voice founder Robert Commanday. His stepfather told NBC that Stevens played the saxophone "about at the Bill Clinton level, but marginally in public."
"We condemn the assault against Americans in Benghazi in the strongest possible terms," tweeted Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who also has Bay Area ties. "Our thoughts and prayers rest with their loved ones."
On Wednesday morning, UC Hastings tweeted about the incident and issued the following statement:
On behalf of the faculty and staff of University of California Hastings College of the Law, I express sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Class of 1989.
The Ambassador was performing the highest role that a lawyer is called upon to perform: public service. He and I communicated when he was appointed Ambassador. He had been looking forward to sharing his experiences with students when he returned. This is a tragedy. We mourn this loss.
On Wednesday afternoon, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau also released a statement commemorating Stevens:
Today, the University of California, Berkeley, mourns the loss of alumnus J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, who perished in yesterday’s shameful attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. After studying history at UC Berkeley, Chris, like so many of our graduates, joined the Peace Corps, which took him to Morocco in the early 1980s. This experience sparked in him an abiding interest in and passion for the Middle East, leading eventually to his successful career in the foreign service and postings in several Middle Eastern countries. He played a key role in supporting the Libyan revolution and was a champion for the country’s emerging democracy. His life epitomized the best of UC Berkeley’s graduates, a commitment to excellence at the highest level and a passion for making the world a better and more peaceful place. On behalf of our campus community, we extend our sincere condolences to his family, colleagues and friends. His family includes another UC Berkeley graduate, his father, Jan S. Stevens, who earned his political science and law degrees here in the 1950s. They are in our thoughts and prayers, as are those who also lost their lives in service to our nation in this terrible assault on our consulate.
President Barack Obama told reporters that Stevens and the other three Americans killed "exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice and partnership with nations and people around the globe."
Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif called the attack "cowardly" and apologized to the United States. "We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world," he said.
"[Stevens] risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his live trying to build a better Libya," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence."
UPDATE: California Governor Jerry Brown released the following statement on Wednesday:
All Californians mourn the loss of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other three Americans killed in Libya on September 11th. As a graduate of Piedmont High School and UC Berkeley, Ambassador Stevens represented the very best that California and the United States have to offer. His dedicated service to our country and our world will never be forgotten.
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