Word of foreign service officer Sean Smith’s death in Benghazi, Libya, first broke in the online gaming world, where he was an avid player. The State Department confirmed Wednesday morning that he had been killed in an attack on the consulate Tuesday.
Alex Gianturco, a friend and leader of Smith’s “guild” in the multiplayer game EVE Online, hailed Smith late Tuesday — known online by his handle “Vile Rat” — as a dedicated public servant who was extremely influential within his community.
On his EVE Online fansite, Gianturco posted a lengthy obituary that noted how Smith had used his professional diplomacy skills to become an influential leader within the game, which relies on complicated negotiations between factions.
Gianturco recalled how Smith had to step away from the computer at times while posted in Iraq when the compound came under attack.
“In Baghdad the same kind of thing happened - incoming sirens, he’d vanish, we’d freak out and he’d come back ok after a bit,” he said. “This time he said ‘FUCK’ and ‘GUNFIRE’ and then disconnected and never returned.”
In a grim detail, Gianturco posted a message from Smith left online the day he was killed in which he discussed the embassy’s siege:
(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures
Others took to twitter and messageboards Tuesday night to pay tribute using the hashtag #tweetfleet.
“He was a friend and a colleague and he will dearly missed,” user “elpintogrande” posted in a messageboard thread announcing his death to members of a forum where he had been active, often discussing his foreign service work.
This post has been updated.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.