Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book “American Sniper,” was fatally shot on Saturday at a Texas gun range. A second man also was shot and killed at the Rough Creek range.
Both men reportedly were killed at point blank by an ex-Marine who suffers from PTSD. The Associated Press quoted a news release from Sgt. Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety as saying that 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster was arraigned Saturday evening on two counts of capital murder.
The Dallas Morning News tweeted that Routh had to be tasered Sunday night after becoming aggressive with jailers.
Kyle, 38, was described as America’s deadliest sniper based on 160 kills recorded in four tours in Iraq. Kyle claimed he killed as many as 250.
The Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press reported the deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield, 35. They quoted the County Sheriff’s Office officials and the US Marshal’s Service.
The shootings occurred at point-blank range at a charity event at a gun range 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth in Erath County, CNN reported. Kyle helped establish the nonprofit Fitco Cares Foundation, founded to enable veterans with PTSD to get exercise equipment. AP reported Capt. Jason Upshaw of the Erath County Sheriff's Office said Routh used a semi-automatic handgun. Some reports said Kyle had asked Routh to come to the charity event so they could help the Iraq veteran deal with his PTSD.
The New York Times said a friend, Travis Cox, told them Kyle and Littlefield took Routh out to try to help him.
“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him. And they were killed.”
Kyle’s life story was told in the Dallas Morning News. He grew up riding horses and became a member of the high school rodeo team. As a young adult, he joined the military and became a Navy SEAL, earning two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. His autobiography, "American Sniper," was released last year.
“When I grew up, I only had two dreams,” he told the News in January 2012. “One was to be a cowboy and another was to be in the military. I grew up extremely patriotic and riding horses. I went to college and was working at a ranch up there. Sunup, sundown, I was in a saddle. By the time I was 24, I decided it was time to go into the military and try it out. It wasn’t exactly the SEALS I was looking for at the time. I just wanted to go into the military and be the best.”
Childhood friend Hudson Hartson said Kyle never changed: “Chris is the same small-town Christian, humble guy he was in high school. … This guy still drives a pickup truck."
Kyle said he wrote "American Sniper" because, “I wanted to be able to let people know about the sacrifices that not only people in the service make, but what their families go through. I knew this would give me a voice so I could speak about the guys I know who were killed. I wanted to get their story out and I wanted to raise awareness for veterans."
Kyle recorded the most kills since Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev, a Soviet sniper who was estimated to have killed more than 400 Germans from distances ranging up to 1,000 meters.played Zaytsev in the film “Enemy at the Gates.”
The 70th anniversary of the battle in what is now called Volgagrad was remembered on Friday. One million soldiers from the two sides, plus civilians, were estimated to have perished. Residents and visitors still search for bullets and other artifacts with metal detectors.
PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, has been identified as a factor in many killings in war zones, and even in the US upon the return of affected soldiers. It has been confirmed in police officers, firefighters, health responders and even journalists. It likely will be used as a defense in the murder trial of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers.