NORFOLK, Va. — The American killed in an attack in Libya was a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and later became a security consultant, most recently helping conduct negotiations between warring factions in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, his father said Wednesday.

David Berry, 34, was killed Tuesday when a gunman stormed a luxury hotel in Tripoli. Berry, who was fluent in Arabic, was a contractor for Fredericksburg-based Crucible LLC, which provides "global security solutions" to the U.S. government and multinational corporations with people "who live and work in dangerous and austere locations worldwide."

"David was a warrior when he needed to be and a peacemaker also. David loved being on the tip of the spear. David would fight for liberty and freedom at any troubled spot on the globe," Berry's father, James Berry said in a telephone interview from Arizona.

Berry grew up and went to high school in Sierra Vista, Arizona. His family, including a wife and four children, live in northern Virginia.

Berry's father said his son had been in Libya since February. David Berry briefly returned to Virginia last week to attend to personal matters, and was looking forward to getting back to Libya, according to his father.

"He was thinking he was going to be able to make a difference with conciliatory actions at the table instead of gunpoint," James Berry said. "He loved what he was doing."

Before Libya, Berry worked in Lebanon for another company training and advising Lebanese Armed Forces, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also did consulting work for a Colorado-based company that provides government and corporate clients with counterterrorism and counterespionage services.

Berry's path to private security work is common among former members of the military that work in intelligence and special operations. Berry joined the Marines in 2000 after graduating high school in Sierra Vista, Arizona, something he had wanted to do since he was 8 years old, his dad said. He left the military in 2012 because the Marines were downsizing and he wasn't going to be able to work in intelligence like he wanted to, according to his father.

While in the Marines, he was an infantry rifleman, an intelligence specialist and a special operations capabilities specialist, according to a summary of his military record provided by the Marines. He also had attended the Army's prestigious Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he studied Arabic.

He was last assigned to a special operations support detachment at Camp Pendleton, California. He had also served in the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and the 1st Intelligence Battalion, which are also based at Camp Pendleton.

"Dave was a great Marine with a rarely-seen level of loyalty for the guys around him. He was a true friend who always put others before himself," according to a fundraising page started by Berry's friends to donate to his wife and children.

Online: David Berry family fundraising page

Associated Press Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report. Brock Vergakis can be reached at