A 25-year-old Iraq war veteran charged with murdering former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend turned his semi-automatic handgun onto the pair while they were at a Texas shooting range, authorities said Sunday.
Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster was arraigned early Sunday on two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, at the shooting range about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Routh has not made any comments indicating what his motive may have been. Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was unemployed and “may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself,” but he didn’t know if Routh was on any medication.
Routh is being held on $3 million bond. Authorities did not know whether Routh had a lawyer yet.
Sheriff Bryant said the trio went to the shooting range around 3:15 p.m. Saturday. Someone else came across the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield around 5 p.m. and called 911.
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, where he told her and her husband what he had done. The couple called local police.
Kyle, a decorated veteran, wrote a best-selling book, detailing 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.
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,” Travis Cox, the director of a non-profit Kyle helped found, 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.”
Kyle is survived by his wife, Taya, and their two children, Mr. Cox said.