Man charged in fatal shooting of ex-SEAL sniper Chris Kyle

Eddie Ray Routh has been charged with murder in connection with a shooting at a Texas gun range that killed former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend.

Paul Moseley/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP
In this 2012 photo, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, author of the book “American Sniper,” poses in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle was fatally shot along with another man on a gun range Saturday.

[UPDATE 2:40 pm ET: The man charged with killing former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and a second man at a Texas shooting range is reported to be a former US Marine who had been deployed to Iraq and was being helped by Kyle and others for post-traumatic stress disorder.]

A 25-year-old man was charged with murder in connection with a shooting at a central Texas gun range that killed former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend, the Texas Department of Public Safety said Sunday.

Sgt. Lonny Haschel said in a news release that 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster was arraigned Saturday evening on two counts of capital murder.

Haschel said Erath County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call about a shooting at the Rough Creek Lodge, west of Glen Rose, at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Police found the bodies of Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, at the shooting range. Glen Rose is about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Police said Routh opened fire on Kyle and Littlefield around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, then fled in a Ford pickup truck. At about 8 p.m., Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit and took him to the Lancaster Police Department.

Officer Kyle Roberts at the Erath County Jail said Routh arrived there Sunday morning and is being held on a combined $3 million bond — bond for one charge of capital murder was set at $1 million and bond for two charges of murder was $1 million each. Roberts did not have information on whether Routh had a lawyer.

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The motive for the shooting was unclear.

Kyle, a decorated veteran, wrote the best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009. According to promotional information from book publisher William Morrow, Kyle deployed to Iraq four times.

Kyle helped start the nonprofit FITCO Cares, which provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans. Travis Cox, the organization's director and friend of Kyle's, spoke with the AP on Sunday morning.

"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. Routh then took Kyle's truck and fled, he said.

Littlefield was Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy," Cox said. He was a gentle, kind-hearted man who often called or emailed Cox with ideas for events or fundraisers to help veterans.

"Chris was literally the type of guy if you were a veteran and needed help he'd help you," Cox said. "And from my understanding that's what happened here. I don't know how he came in contact with this gentleman, but I do know that it was not through the foundation.

"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."

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 children, the nonprofit's release said.

Associated Press Writers Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Andale Gross and Erica Hunzinger in Chicago contributed to this report.

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