Ex-SEAL Chris Kyle remembered after shooting death
Chris Kyle wrote the best-selling book 'American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.'
Investigators in Texas Sunday were trying to piece together what led to the shooting deaths a day earlier of American Sniper author Chris Kyle and another man at a gun range in Glen Rose, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Lodge, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Police arrested Eddie Ray Routh, 25, of Lancaster, and he was arraigned Saturday evening on two counts of capital murder, according to Sgt. Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Routh was being held in the Erath County Jail in lieu of a $3 million bond.
Capt. Jason Upshaw of the Erath County Sheriff's Department said a semi-automatic handgun believed to have been used in the shootings was recovered at Routh's home. He said Routh was unemployed and may have been suffering some form of mental illness. "We've heard rumors of that but we haven't seen any medical evidence to confirm that," he said.
He said police did not have a motive for the shootings, which were being investigated by the sheriff's department, other local police agencies, the Texas Rangers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Police said Routh fired on Kyle and Littlefield around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, then fled in a Ford pickup. At around 8 p.m., Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit.
Travis Cox, director of FITCO Cares, a non-profit group Kyle helped start to help fellow veterans, told the Associated Press that the former sniper and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range trying to help a veteran "who was struggling with PTSD, to try to assist him, try to help him out, try to, you know, give him a helping hand and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them."
Police have not confirmed that account.
The military confirmed Sunday that Routh was a corporal in the Marines from June 2006 to January 2010. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and his current duty status is listed as reserve.
In a statement, Cox said that Kyle served four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL. "Chris died doing what filled his heart with passion — serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). His service, life and premature death will never be in vain. "
Cox, 27, who served in special operations in the Marines and was a scout sniper and Iraq veteran, said in an interview that Kyle was "a servant-leader."
"The man gave his life to serving veterans," Cox said. "He served them faithfully." FITCO Cares, also known as the Heroes Project, provides home fitness equipment, health club memberships and counseling to veterans.
Cox, who said he was not aware of a possible motive for the "tragic, senseless crime," said Kyle is survived by his wife, Taya, and two children.
Kyle was "an incredible guy who was always about family, about country and about God," his co-author said Sunday.
"During his life, he struggled to get those into the proper order," said Jim DeFelice, 56, of Warwick, N.Y., one of the co-authors of Kyle's best-selling book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, which details Kyle's kills of 150-plus insurgents from 1999 to 2009.
"It was always God first, but he struggled sometimes with how to balance his responsibility to his country with his responsibility to his family," DeFelice said.
Beginning Jan. 12, 2012, American Sniper spent 27 weeks on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list, rising as high as No. 10.
DeFelice said that when he first met Kyle about 2½ years ago, "The first thing he told me was that he was going to use every cent (from the book) for the families of the two SEALs who were killed with him when he was in Iraq."
Kyle was sued by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura over a claim in the book that Kyle punched Ventura in a bar fight over unpatriotic remarks in 2006. Ventura says that the punch never happened and that the claim defamed him.
Kyle had sought to have Ventura's claims of invasion of privacy and "unjust enrichment" dismissed, saying there was no legal basis for them. A federal judge said the lawsuit should proceed. Both sides were told to be ready for trial by Aug.1.
Contributing: The Associated Press