Chris Kyle, America's deadliest military sniper, shot dead
Speculation the Navy Seal sniper was killed at Texas rifle range by former Marine with PTSD
CHRIS KYLE, the US military’s deadliest sniper, has been shot dead at a shooting range in Texas, allegedly by a 25-year-old Iraq veteran he had taken shooting to help him adjust to life after active duty.
Kyle, 39, and another man were shot at point-blank range yesterday afternoon at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort near Fort Worth. The former Navy Seal and author of the 2012 bestseller American Sniper was competing in a charity shooting event when he was killed.
The man who has been charged over both murders is Eddie Ray Routh, who was driving Kyle’s truck when he was arrested, the Daily Mail reports. Police investigating the deaths told a Texas television station that Routh is a former Marine who has served in Iraq and Haiti and is believed to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Kyle became a mentor to many war veterans after he left the Navy Seals, sometimes taking them shooting "as a kind of therapy to salve battlefield scars", says the New York Times. Kyle and the other victim of yesterday’s shooting, Chad Littlefield, 35, had taken Routh "out to shoot to try to help him", a friend of the sniper told the paper. Authorities said it was the first time the three men had been to a rifle range together.
Kyle, who was married with two children, was officially credited by the Pentagon with more than 150 sniper kills in Iraq between 1999 and 2009 – the most in US military history. In American Sniper he says the real total was even higher, more than 250.
A former cowboy from Odessa, Texas, Kyle learned to shoot a rifle at the age of eight. He earned a living as a professional rodeo rider before joining the Navy’s elite Seals unit and being deployed to Iraq four times. In Ramadi, his lethal efficiency with a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle saw him nicknamed "the Devil of Ramadi" by insurgents who put a $20,000 bounty on his head. Kyle survived six IED explosion and two shooting wounds during active service.
He says he hesitated when he made his first 'kill' in Iraq, a woman holding a grenade in one hand and a toddler in the other. After that, he never second-guessed himself. It was this attitude and his "Texas drawl, hulking physique and tightly reserved public manner", that made him an object of fascination when he appeared on late-night chat shows discussing his book, the Washington Post says.
The former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who met Kyle on a reality TV show called Stars Earn Stripes, described him as a "wonderful man, a good friend and a true American hero".