Ex-Navy Sniper Fatally Shot at Texas Gun Range

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GLEN ROSE, Texas (CNN) — A former Navy SEAL known for claiming a record number of sniper killings in Iraq was one of two men shot dead at a Texas gun range, allegedly at the hands of a fellow military veteran, officials say.

Chris Kyle, the author of the best-selling “American Sniper,” and Chad Littlefield, also a veteran, were gunned down Saturday afternoon on the grounds of the expansive Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Glen Rose, Texas, southwest of Fort Worth, law enforcement officials said.

routhAbout four hours afterward, and 90 miles from where those two men’s bodies were found by a hunting guide, authorities arrested suspect Eddie Ray Routh, 25, on a capital murder warrant.

Routh’s family members could not be reached immediately for comment Sunday. No attorney has made a public statement on his behalf.

Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine, is believed to have left the service in 2010

Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Sunday that he believes the suspect is in the process of seeking a court-appointed attorney.

While Routh’s sister said he had admitted shooting Kyle and Littlefield, he didn’t explain to her why he did it, Bryant said. Routh isn’t believed to have confessed to local authorities about killing the two men. The motive for the killings is unclear.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever know,” Erath County Sheriff’s Capt. Jason Upshaw said Sunday. “(Routh) is the only one that knows that.”

Sheriff: Suspect spent four years in Marines

The Rough Creek Lodge is a large facility that draws couples getting married, business people using its conference center and families looking for a getaway. Hunting and shooting sports are some of the many recreational options available on its grounds.

Kyle, Littlefield and Routh were three such visitors, arriving together around 3:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. ET) Saturday and proceeding to a shooting range within the resort’s 11,000 acres, Bryant told reporters Sunday. The range is in a “very remote part” of the sprawling complex, Upshaw explained.

“So there wasn’t anybody anywhere close to that,” he said, explaining there are no known witnesses.

The first sign something was wrong came when a hunting guide tied to the facility found 38-year-old Kyle and 35-year-old Littlefield — both unconscious — around 5 p.m., Bryant said.

He went to the lodge and called 911. Law enforcement officers followed up and found the bodies but no sign of Routh. He had taken off in Kyle’s black Ford pickup, the Erath County sheriff said.

Around the time an all-points bulletin went out for that truck, authorities got a call from Routh’s sister, who reported that her brother had driven about 65 miles to her home in Midlothian, Texas, and admitted to shooting Kyle and Littlefield.

Routh left his sister’s house, and police eventually caught up with him — and the truck — shortly before 8 p.m. at his home in Lancaster, a Dallas suburb some 90 miles northeast of the shooting scene. While talking with authorities outside, he’d somehow gotten back in the truck and sped away.

Authorities chased him and finally stopped him, around 9 p.m., after spiking his tires some four to six miles down the road, according to Bryant.

Routh did not struggle with officers as they were arresting him, Bryant said. On Sunday morning, he was arraigned on murder charges and ordered held on $3 million bond.

After that, Routh sat in a jail cell “all by himself,” separated from the rest of the inmate population and watched closely by guards, according to Bryant.

So who is Eddie Ray Routh?

The sheriff said that Routh spent four years in the Marines. He is believed to have left the service in 2010, according to a U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. The official did not have information on where Routh served or whether he took part in combat.

Public records show Routh previously lived at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, though his latest address was in Lancaster, Texas.

At the time of shooting, he was unemployed. Bryant said that Routh’s mother, a longtime schoolteacher, “may have reached out to Mr. Kyle to try and help her son.”

‘He led by example,’ Kyle’s friend says

Kyle learned to shoot on hunting trips with his father, then went on to serve four combat tours in Iraq with the SEALs, though his official biography notes he also worked with Army and Marine units. He received two Silver Stars and other commendations before leaving the Navy in 2009 — claiming that, in his years as a sniper, he’d killed more than 150 people, which he called a record for an American.

In the interview with Time magazine (like CNN, a part of Time Warner), Kyle said he did not regret any of his kills. He also said he was “comfortable” with the possibility that that part of his life might be over.

He added, “I’m a better husband and father than I was a killer.”

After having worked under the radar for so many years, he became a celebrity with the 2012 release of his book, which became a New York Times best-seller.

Defending his decision to divulge so much detail despite the secretive nature of the SEAL world, Kyle told Time that he was “not trying to glory myself.”

“I didn’t want to put the number of kills I had in there,” he said. “I wanted to get it out about the sacrifices military families have to make.”

He said that while killing did not come easy at first, he knew it meant saving lives.

“The first time, you’re not even sure you can do it,” he said in the interview. “But I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe. Every time I kill someone, he can’t plant an (improvised explosive device). You don’t think twice about it.”

At one point, Kyle wrote, he shot a woman who was carrying a grenade while with her toddler. But he did not kill a child in Baghdad’s Sadr City area who had a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. “According to the rules of engagement at the time, you could kill anyone with an RPG on sight. That day I just couldn’t kill the kid. He’ll probably grow up and fight us, but I just didn’t want to do it.

He said the American public lives “in a dream world. You have no idea what goes on on the other side of the world. The harsh realities that these people are doing to themselves and then to our guys. And there are certain things that need to be done to take care of them.”

After leaving the military, he founded Craft International, a military training company. Kyle also spoke up on current events, including accusing President Barack Obama of being “against the Second Amendment” because of his gun control initiatives, according to a video interview with guns.com.

The married father of two children established the nonprofit Fitco Cares Foundation to help veterans battling PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — get access to exercise equipment.

Littlefield, who leaves behind a wife and children, was a friend and another veteran who worked to help people with PTSD, said Fitco Director Travis Cox.

In a statement, the foundation described Kyle as an “American hero” and pledged to carry on his mission.

“What began as a plea for help from Chris looking for in-home fitness equipment for his brothers- and sisters-in-arms” struggling with PTSD turned into an organization that will continue after his death,” Cox said in a statement.

“Chris died doing what he filled his heart with passion — serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD. His service, life and premature death will never be in vain. May God watch over his family and all those who considered Chris a true friend.”

His friend, Jason Kos, offered similarly glowing sentiments, telling CNN’s “Early Start Weekend” that Kyle was “a man of incredible character.”

“He led by example,” Kos said. “He always stopped to take time to talk to whoever was around him. Just incredibly humble, very funny as well.”

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    • I'm a Cracker

      more fitting would be "no good deed ever goes unpunished" Kyle was trying to help that kid with his PTSD and the kid turn the gun on the people who were trying to help him.

    • Greg

      You are an idiot! He shouldn't regret his kills, he did his job, he was protecting American lives in a hostile environment. He was a hero and he was the best at what he did! George if you had the balls to be in a combat zone…..I am guessing you would've wanted Mr. Kyle on your side.

  • BrianOC7

    So NRA…on a range full of people with loaded guns a killer still gets his target and doesn't get shot himself. Let's get those guns to all the teachers in country right away.

    By the way. I remember some of my teachers. There is NO WAY you should arm those people. Seriously.

    • I'm a Cracker

      the 3 were the only ones at the range when it happened. If you read the story instead ofspouting off you would know that.

      The story isn't even about the teachers, can't stay on subject huh, sad very sad

      • BrianOC7

        Sadly you gun “lovers” miss the point of my comment. There is a law that is more powerful than the second amendment…”Any Fool Can Pull A Trigger”. So with that in mind, I don’t want some teachers to have guns. I don’t want some of my neighbors to have guns. I don’t want the nut the just cut me off on the freeway to have a gun. I don’t want the jerk in the grocery store to have a gun. And it would not be a good idea to go to a gun range with someone that should not have a gun. No amount of training can stop a bullet fired at you with no protection. Sadly a hero is dead because of this factor. Had this been a bar it may have ended up in a punch being thrown. But with loaded guns around, someone dies. FACT.

        • I'm a Cracker

          well Brian, it's not your decision to make who has guns or who doesn't. Sounds like you have an anger problem. BTW didn't see one fact in your post.

  • edwardcollen

    Reagan. if you, thought Lucille`s blurb is surprising, on friday I bought a great new Acura from making $9447 this last five weeks and-also, ten-grand this past month. it's certainly my favourite-work I have ever had. I began this eight months/ago and pretty much immediately began to bring in minimum $74.. per hour. I follow this great link, http://xurl.es/v6b7j

  • SicknTired

    Tragic loss of an American hero. Chris Kyle certainly didn't deserve to die like that and anyone suggesting so is a coward without am ounce of the testicular fortitude it takes to be in the service.

  • YankeeDoodleDoggie

    No need for CNN or by extension KTLA to follow up on the facts.
    ALL kills by American Hero Mr. Kyle are verified by fellow SEALS/soldiers
    as well as the Pentagon. So no—the number of enemy kills are
    not pulled out of thin air as the article suggests "he claims".

  • Matt_O

    To say that his death wasn't tragic is erroneous. This man not only served his country, but he served this country’s veterans. He looked to better the lives of the men and woman who served this country. For those who call him a coward, and disgrace him in such a barbarous manner will never amount to what he has done. This is a man who fought for his family, his country, and people like you. If people like him didn’t risk their lives every day we wouldn’t be able to have the rights we do. So go ahead and talk of blasphemy, but know this; fact is a man died, gunned down. Now is not the time to run scare and look for someone or something to blame, we as a nation and as human beings need to do the right thing and take out emotions, and the politics and start being reasonable.