A 68-year-old American man was killed in a Russian attack on Chernihiv, a Ukrainian city northwest of Kyiv, local authorities said Thursday.
James Whitney Hill, known to friends as Jimmy, was killed by heavy artillery attacks on unarmed civilians in the city, The New York Times reported. His identity was reportedly confirmed by an aide to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
“My brother Jimmy Hill was killed yesterday in Chernihiv, Ukraine,” Cheryl Hill Gordon wrote on Facebook on Thursday afternoon. “He was waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down by Russian military [snipers]. His body was found in the street by the local police.”
The U.S. embassy in Kyiv said Wednesday that Russian forces had shot and killed 10 people standing in line for bread in Chernihiv.
Another sister, Katya Hill, told MPR News her brother was out looking for food when he was killed, but said the State Department could not tell her if he was among the victims in the bread line or if he was killed in another attack.
According to Hill’s Facebook page, he was a freelance lecturer and had worked at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv. Katya Hill said he was a social worker and forensic psychologist and had worked on and off in Ukraine for about 20 years.
He traveled to Chernihiv in December to seek treatment for his partner Irina, a Ukrainian citizen who has multiple sclerosis, his friend told an Idaho news station earlier this month.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Hill and his companions were trapped inside a hospital with limited food, water and electricity.
In a series of updates on Facebook in his final days, Hill said his partner, whom he called Ira, was in intensive care. He said they wanted to flee the city, but couldn’t determine how to do so safely.
“Its a living nightmare but we are alive,” he wrote in one post last week. “Bombing throughout the day. Helpless feeling.”
“We could try a break out tomorrow but Ira’s mom doesnt want to,” Hill wrote earlier this week. “Each day people are killed trying to escape. But bombs falling here at night.”
He said he and his companions only had enough food for a few more days and that it was very cold in the hospital.
Chernihiv, a city close to the Russian border, has been surrounded by Russian military. Civilians are increasingly dying under sustained attack from enemy forces in residential areas. The city’s mayor said last week that Chernihiv had run out of room to bury its dead.
In his final post, on Tuesday, Hill said that the bombing had intensified and there was no way out.