American officials, for the most part, were well-received in Libya, where many locals were grateful for the help the United States provided in overthrowing Gadhafi.
But danger remained.
There were still many Gadhafi loyalists, there was easy access to guns and the new fledgling government was having a difficult time maintaining security.
On June 1, a car bomb exploded outside a hotel in Tripoli where Stevens was staying.
The same month, Stevens had to move with his security team from the hotel because of a "credible' threat.
On June 6, a roadside bomb exploded near the U.S. compound in Benghazi, hurting no one but blasting a large hole in a wall of the compound.
The threats continued for U.S. officials and diplomats from other countries -- but security staffing remained unchanged.
The ambassador is missing
But now, there was no time to fret about woeful security.
Black smoke was filling up the safe area.
Stevens, Smith and the security officer crawled to a bathroom, hoping to open a window.
The security officer placed towels under the bathroom door and flung open the panes.
It made things worse.
The open window pulled more smoke into the bathroom, making breathing impossible.
Despite the explosions outside, they would have to flee the safe area, the officer thought. The smoke had choked out the lights. They were in total darkness.
The officer left the bathroom, crawled through a hallway, banging on the floor and yelling that the ambassador and Smith follow him.
He slipped though another window and collapsed in an enclosed patio area.
And then he noticed it.
Stevens and Smith were not there.
The officer slipped back through the window several times, even though the intruders were still shooting at him.