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Iraq vet charged in fatal shooting of ex-SEAL

By Christopher Sherman and Jamie Stengle

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:34 p.m. HST, Feb 03, 2013

Stephenville, Texas » An Iraq War veteran charged with murdering former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a friend turned a gun on the pair while they were at a Texas shooting range, authorities said.

Eddie Ray Routh, of Lancaster, was arraigned early today in the deaths of Kyle, who wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper," and Chad Littlefield, 35. They were killed at a shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Travis Cox, the director of a nonprofit Kyle helped found, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Kyle, 38, and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range to try to help him. Littlefield was Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy," Cox said.

"What I know is Chris and a gentleman — great guy, I knew him well, Chad Littlefield — took a veteran out shooting who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him, try to, you know, give him a helping hand, and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them," Cox said.

Capt. Jason Upshaw with the Erath County Sheriff's Office said Routh had not made any comments that might indicate a motive. "I don't know that we'll ever know. He's the only one that knows that," Upshaw said.

Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was unemployed and "may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself."

Bryant didn't know whether Routh was on any medication or had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Routh was being held on one charge of capital murder and two charges of murder.

Upshaw said Routh used a semi-automatic handgun, which authorities later found at his home. Upshaw said ballistics tests weren't complete Sunday, but authorities believe it was the gun used in the shootings. Upshaw declined to give any more details about the gun.

The U.S. military confirmed today that Routh was a corporal in the Marines, serving in active duty from 2006 to 2010. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Haiti in 2010. His current duty status is listed as reserve.

Routh is being held on $3 million bond. Bryant said he believed Routh was in the process of seeking a public defender.

A knock on the door at Routh's last known address went unanswered today. A for-sale sign was in front of the small, wood-framed home.

Kyle's best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," detailed his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009. Kyle said in his book that Iraqi insurgents had put a bounty on his head. According to promotional information from book publisher William Morrow, Kyle deployed to Iraq four times.

Bryant said Kyle, Littlefield and Routh went to the shooting range around 3:15 p.m. Saturday. A hunting guide at Rough Creek Lodge came across the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield around 5 p.m. and called 911.

Upshaw said autopsies were still pending and he could not say how many times the men were shot or where on their bodies they were hit.

After the shootings, Routh left the shooting range in Kyle's black pickup truck, Bryant said, first going to his sister's home in Midlothian, about 25 miles southwest of Dallas, where he told her and her husband what he had done. Routh left, Bryant said, and the couple called local police.

Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas, at about 8 p.m. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit.

Kyle's nonprofit, FITCO Cares, provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans.

"Chris was literally the type of guy, if you were a veteran and needed help, he'd help you," said Cox, the director of FITCO Cares.

Cox described Littlefield as a gentle, kind-hearted man who often called or emailed him with ideas for events or fundraisers to help veterans. He said he was married and had children.

"It was just two great guys, with Chad and Chris trying to help out a veteran in need and making time out of their day to help him. And to give him a hand. And unfortunately this thing happened," Cox said.

Bryant expressed a similar understanding of the situation. The sheriff said Routh's mother "may have reached out to Mr. Kyle to try to help her son."

"We kind of have an idea that maybe that's why they were at the range for some type of therapy that Mr. Kyle assists people with. And I don't know if it's called shooting therapy, I don't have any idea," Bryant said.

Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver, who served with Kyle on SEAL Team 3 in Iraq in 2006, called Kyle a champion of the modern battlefield. Denver wasn't surprised that Kyle apparently used a shooting range to help someone with PTSD.

"For us, for warriors, that's a skill set that has become very familiar, very comfortable for us," said Denver, a lieutenant commander in a reserve SEAL team. His book "Damn Few," about training SEALs, will be released this month. "So I actually see it as kind of a perfect use of Chris' unique skill set and expertise of which he has very few peers."

Craft International, Kyle's security training company, had scheduled a $2,950-per-person civilian training event at Rough Creek Lodge called the "Rough Creek Shoot Out!" for March 1-3. The price included lodging, meals and shooting instruction. Kyle was scheduled to teach the first class, called "precision rifle."

Kyle is survived by his wife, Taya, and their two children, Cox said.


Sherman reported from McAllen, Texas. Associated Press writers Andale Gross and Erica Hunzinger in Chicago contributed to this report.

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64hoo wrote:
chris kyle saved a lot of soldiers lives in the Iraq war. he was a hero in that war. he will be miss. but as the bible says when you live by the sword you die by the sword RIP kyle and condolences to your family. a true American hero.
on February 2,2013 | 08:55PM
hanalei395 wrote:
It's Karma...proud of being an "American Sniper" ..."What goes around, comes around".
on February 2,2013 | 10:20PM
Dawg wrote:
on February 3,2013 | 05:54AM
Anonymous wrote:
Too bad no one knows your real name.
on February 3,2013 | 06:48AM
sluggah wrote:
on February 3,2013 | 09:23AM
torxman wrote:
An NRA member making money by telling stories about using his high power rifle to kill people.
on February 2,2013 | 10:24PM
64hoo wrote:
no killing the enemy in Iraq instead of the insurgents killing our soldiers because he killed the enemy insurgents first before they could kill our soldiers. NRA has nothing to do with this tragedy. a real American hero.
on February 2,2013 | 10:36PM
Dawg wrote:
on February 3,2013 | 05:55AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Invading Iraq, starting a war and killing, murdering its people who had NOTHING to do with 9/11.
on February 3,2013 | 07:15AM
sluggah wrote:
on February 3,2013 | 09:23AM
Dawg wrote:
Hey 64hoo, Did you serve in the military? Do you have any idea what it is like to sleep on a cold ground for months on end? You sound like a soft fragile God hoping fool that believes we can sing Hawaii Aloha and it will all be better. NO THE BOOGIE MEN AND WOMEN ARE REAL! DO YOU GET IT? DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM 911? GOD BLESS THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO PROTECT OR COUNTRY.
on February 3,2013 | 05:53AM
kgolfinghawaii wrote:
The Bible is talking about murder not being a soldier when it says if you shed a man's blood you will die by the sword. As for Karma, man I love people that think our guys are the bad guys. Snipers are needed to protect the guys walking in harms way.
on February 3,2013 | 02:48AM
RichardCory wrote:
No, the Bible means what it says. Jesus never killed anyone, and he certainly didn't glorify being a soldier. It doesn't matter how you kill or why, you should expect to meet a killer's end. So bizarre when people want to twist what the Bible says to meet their own views rather than just read it for what it actually says.
on February 3,2013 | 04:25AM
sluggah wrote:
And you don't think our enemies twist the Koran like a pretzel? You should honor Chris Kyle and all our servicemen and women, they are making you safe to make asinine comments.
on February 3,2013 | 09:28AM
kainalu wrote:
Have gun ... will shoot. As American as mom and apple pie. Our condolences to the victims and their families.
on February 3,2013 | 06:51AM
NuuanuMama wrote:
Maybe going to a shooting range is not good therapy for PTSD.
on February 3,2013 | 07:11AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Chris Kyle - an unreal shooter, incredible skills and a good guy. Rest in peace soldier. Condolences to your family.
on February 3,2013 | 07:15AM
sjean wrote:
Wait, a legally owned firearm was used in a double murder? Wayne Lepiew says this never happens. I thought we were going to use former soldiers as armed security guards at our schools. Great idea. Rest in peace Chris Kyle Chad Littlefield.
on February 3,2013 | 07:51AM
kennysmith wrote:
what if you are a veteran what would you do then?
on February 3,2013 | 08:39AM
primowarrior wrote:
Thanks to Mr. Kyle for his service. May he and Mr. Littlefield rest in peace. Condolences to their families. I'm not sure it was a good idea to go shooting with someone struggling with PTSD, but these men were trying to help a veteran out. If the shooting was caused by Mr. Routh's PTSD, I hope he gets the treatment he needs, whether in prison or a secure mental facility.
on February 3,2013 | 09:39AM
paradiddle wrote:
Unless you have served and fought in combat, one's opinion is one sided. Chris Kyle is a hero, as well as the countless others others who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice and the countless others who served and returned home "damaged" by his/her experience. This is a tragedy and the circumstances truly confounds me. I was fortunate and returned home from Vietnam unscathed. However, I had to constantly remind my wife NEVER to wake me by touching or shaking me. Please do not dishonor anyone without knowing all the facts or fault others unless you have walked in their shoes. RIP Chris Kyle. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. This also applies to the tormented shooter. A very sad situation for everyone involved.
on February 3,2013 | 09:56AM
mrluke wrote:
I'm sure there's a lawyer ready to step in and use the PTSD alibi/excuse.
on February 3,2013 | 10:05AM
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