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Former Navy SEAL and the US military’s most lethal sniper, Chris Kyle, was one of two people shot and killed inside a North Texas gun range Saturday. The suspected shooter, Eddie Ray Routh, 25, of Lancaster, Texas, is in police custody, according to local law enforcement. Chad Littlefield, 35, was also killed.
Kyle, 38, was believed to be at the gun range with his friend and neighbor Littlefield, helping Routh, 25, through his charity, which helps soldiers who are recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant and The Dallas Morning News.
The three men arrived at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort around 3:15 p.m. together. Kyle and Littlefield were found dead around 5 p.m., while Routh fled the gun range in Kyle’s truck. After a brief police pursuit, Routh was arrested Saturday night just after 8 p.m., and is being held in county jail under a $3 million bond. Routh’s mother, who is a teacher, may have contacted Kyle to “help her son,” Bryant said at the press conference, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We have an idea that that’s why they were at the range, for some kind of therapy that Mr. Kyle assists people with.”
Kyle served four tours in Iraq and was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. He also appeared last year on the NBC reality show Stars Earn Stripes, in which competitors including Nick Lachey, Todd Palin and Laila Ali were paired with special ops and trained to take on missions based on military exercises. Kyle was paired with Superman actor Dean Cain, fundraising for the Wounded Warrior Project.
In addition to Kyle’s numerous military decorations, he was the best-selling author of American Sniper, which recounted the personal effects Kyle felt after he accumulated more than 150 sniper kills between 1999-2009, the most in U.S. military history. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed last May that his autobiography would be adapted for the big screen with Bradley Cooper set to produce and likely to star as Kyle. It was the first project announced for Cooper’s Warner Bros.-based production company, 22nd & Indiana. Jason Dean Hall is writing the script, while Andrew Lazar and Peter Morgan have joined Cooper as producers.
“We have lost more than we can replace. Chris was a patriot, a great father, and a true supporter of this country and its ideals. This is a tragedy for all of us. I send my deepest prayers and thoughts to his wife and two children,” American Sniper co-author Scott McEwen said in a statement.
“Chris Kyle was a hero for his courageous efforts protecting our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL during four tours of combat. Moreover, he was a hero for his efforts stateside when he helped develop the FITCO Cares Foundation,” says Travis Cox, the director of FITCO Cares, in a statement. “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 became an organization that will carry that torch proudly in his honor.”
“Chris was a true American hero, having devoted his adult life to serving his country in combat as a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs and in training our military and law enforcement personnel after leaving the Navy,” Steven Young, CEO of Craft International, told THR in a statement regarding his family friend and the company’s president. “Chris was also an extremely devoted family man – a wonderful husband and loving father. He gave so much of his time to charitable causes that assisted military personnel and their families and died while trying to help a struggling service member. We are all saddened by his tragic death. America lost one of its finest sons and a true patriot. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kyle family.”
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