The family of an American with ties to the Bay Area says he was killed by ISIS troops in Syria.
Robert Grodt, who was born in Mountain View, was a self-proclaimed activist who joined a military effort in Syria to fight against terrorist organizations. He was five months into a six-month deployment when he died.
Grodt's mother, Tammy Grodt, in an interview with NBC Bay Area on Thursday said she received a heart-breaking phone call from the State Department notifying her that her son was killed in Syria last week.
Tammy Grodt said she will never fully understand why her son traveled to Syria, but she is proud that he died fighting for a noble cause.
"That we do things that are meaningful. That we do things for other people," she said. "I think it's important that we help out and speak up and don't tolerate the mistreatment of others."
Spike Murphy worked with Robert Grodt at a non-profit organization in Santa Cruz several years ago. He described his friend as an inspired man who devoted his life to helping others.
"You don't have to agree with his politics, but he did this because he wanted to make the world better for everyone," Murphy said.
Grodt leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter and fiancee.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page.