CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

National News

February 3, 2013

Iraq War vet charged in fatal shooting of ex-SEAL

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 Sunday.

Eddie Ray Routh, of Lancaster, was arraigned early Sunday 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 Sunday 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 Sunday. 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.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Fort Hood (UPDATED) Officials: 4 dead, including gunman, at Fort Hood

    A gunman opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood in an attack that left four dead, including the shooter, law enforcement officials said.
    One of the officials, citing official internal U.S. Justice Department updates, said 14 others were hurt. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information by name.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • High School Stabbings 4 students seriously hurt in Pa. school stabbings

    A student armed with a knife went on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including four students who suffered serious wounds, authorities said.

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Obit Ultimate Warrior Former pro wrestler Ultimate Warrior dies at 54

    James Hellwig, better known as former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, has died, the WWE said. He was 54.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_amazonfiretv.jpg Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

    Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Washington Mudslide Death toll in Washington mudslide rises to 30

    As medical examiners painstakingly piece together the identities and lives of the 30 people known killed when a mudslide wiped out a small Washington community, one mystery troubles them.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Fort Hood Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment

    An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court Campaign Big donors may give even more under court’s ruling

    The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday erasing a long-standing limit on campaign donations will allow a small number of very wealthy donors to give even more than is currently the case, according to students of the complex campaign finance system, and could strengthen the establishment in both parties.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo