Ex-Marine charged with killing famed former Navy SEAL sniper
AFPWASHINGTON -- An Iraq war veteran was facing murder charges Monday for allegedly gunning down two men, one of whom was a former Navy SEAL sniper whose exploits in the same conflict were detailed in a best-selling book.
February 5, 2013, 11:57 am TWN
Chris Kyle, who wrote “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot dead at a firing range in Glen Rose, Texas on Saturday, authorities said.
The two men are believed to have taken the suspected gunman, former U.S. Marine Eddie Routh, 25, to the range where the shooting took place.
Captain Jason Upshaw of the Erath County Sheriff's Office said on Sunday that Kyle and Littlefield died of gunshot wounds and that Routh had been charged with two counts of murder and one count of capital murder.
“We lost two American heroes,” Upshaw told reporters, noting that the weapon thought to have been used in the incident, a semiautomatic handgun, had been found at Routh's home.
Kyle, 38, was credited with more than 150 confirmed kills during a decorated decadelong service career that included four tours in Iraq. Since leaving the SEALs, he had helped run a support group for struggling ex-military personnel.
His memoir recounted battle experiences in the Iraqi rebel strongholds of Ramadi and Fallujah, and he wrote that al-Qaida militants whose comrades he had gunned down dubbed him “The Devil,” and said they had put a bounty on his head.
Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was believed to be suffering from “some type of mental illness,” or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that his mother may have contacted the veterans support foundation that Kyle was involved with.
Kyle's death had earlier been confirmed by FITCO Cares, a support group he helped start which worked with returning soldiers who had PTSD.
“My heart is breaking,” said FITCO's director, Travis Cox, noting that the former sniper leaves a wife and two children.
“Chris died doing what he filled his heart with passion — serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD.”
The U.S. military confirmed on Sunday that Routh had seen active service with the Marines in Iraq, but that he was currently listed as a reserve.
The Dallas Morning News wrote that Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor for his military service.