Kyle shot while trying to help veteran, authorities say

 

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

(Left to right) Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash, Sheriff Tommy Bryant, Capt. Tommy Bryant and Lt. Lonny H PHOTO BY LANDON HASTON/Texan News Service

(Left to right) Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash, Sheriff Tommy Bryant, Capt. Jason Upshaw and DPS Sgt. Lonny Haschel

PHOTO BY LANDON HASTON/Texan News Service

Elite military sniper Chris Kyle may have been trying to help a fellow veteran who was suffering from mental problems when Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed Saturday at a gun range at Rough Creek Lodge, authorities said Sunday.

At a news conference at the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Tommy Bryant also provided new details about the timeline behind the crime. Rough Creek Lodge is located just over the Somervell-Erath county line.

Around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Kyle, Littlefield and Eddie Ray Routh entered the Rough Creek gun range. Kyle and Littlefield had picked up Routh at his home in Lancaster and brought him to Rough Creek in Kyle’s truck, law enforcement authorities said.

Around 5 p.m. a hunting guide found the two victims, Kyle, who was 38, and Chadfield, who was 35, Bryant said. Both had been shot at point-blank range and were unconscious, he added.

Capt. Jason Upshaw, the sheriff’s chief investigator, said the gun range was in “a remote part of the ranch.” The Rough Creek resort covers about 11,000 acres.

“Nobody was close to them” and there were no witnesses to what happened, he added.

Law enforcement authorities were dispatched to the scene 10 miles west of Glen Rose. They included the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Routh had fled the scene in Kyle’s black Ford pickup truck covered with Rhino liner and with a skull sticker in the back window. Authorities issued an all-points bulletin for Routh, 25, whom authorities identified as unemployed and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Routh drove to his sister’s house in Midlothian and told her and her husband what had happened, Bryant said. The couple then called local law enforcement authorities.

Eddie Ray Routh

Eddie Ray Routh

Around 8 p.m. Kyle’s vehicle was found at Routh’s residence in Lancaster, Bryant said. Law enforcement authorities converged on the address, but Routh managed to get back in his vehicle and flee, he added.

Routh was apprehended at Interstate 35 and Camp Wisdom Road after spikes were scattered in the interstate to stop him, said Sgt. Lonny Haschel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A semi-automatic handgun  believed to be the weapon used in the shooting was found at Routh’s residence, Bryant said. The Texas Rangers executed the search warrant.

Capt. Jason Upshaw, the sheriff’s lead investigator in the case, said autopsies are pending. He could not say how many times Kyle and Littlefield had been shot or what part of their bodies had been hit.

Routh was brought back to the Erath County where he was arraigned early Sunday and charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of murder. He is being held on $3 million bond.

Reporters asked Bryant if he knew of any motive behind the shooting.

“I don’t think anyone knows why,” he said. “My understanding is that the suspect may have been suffering from a mental illness from being in the military.”

Kyle may have been at the range for “some type of therapy” for Routh, Bryant said, although he added he didn’t know that for sure. He said that Routh’s mother may have sought out Kyle’s help.

“The suspect’s mother was a schoolteacher for a long time,” the sheriff said. “She may have reached out to Mr. Kyle to try and 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.”

However, he could not say definitively that Routh was suffering from post-traumatic stress order.

Located in a middle-class neighborhood in the older section of Lancaster near its downtown, the modest frame house that was Routh’s last known address bears a “for sale” sign out front. No one answered the door when the Glen Rose Current drove to the home and tried to speak with Routh’s relatives.

The New York Times reported Sunday night that Pentagon records showed that Routh currently was a member of the Marine Reserves.

“He was an expert marksman and Marine corporal who had earned several medals, including a Marine good-conduct medal,” the Times report said. It quoted Pentagon officials as saying Routh served in Iraq from September 2007 to March 2008 and was an “individual ready reserve” who could be called back to active duty.

Kyle founded a foundation, FITCO Cares, to help veterans cope with problems after returning home.  Some of the therapy for PTSD suffers included target practice. Authorities said they believed that Saturday was the first time that Kyle, Chadfield and Routh were at the Rough Creek range together.

However, Kyle was well-known around Rough Creek. Craft International, his security training company, had scheduled a $2,950-per-person civilian training event at Rough Creek called the “Rough Creek Shoot Out!” for March 1 to 3. Kyle was scheduled to teach the precision rifle class.

Upshaw said a motive for the shooting may never be known.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever know,” he said. “At this point he (Routh) hasn’t made any comments to law enforcement as to she he did it.

“It’s a sad day,” Upshaw added. “We’ve lost two American heroes. My heart goes out to their family and loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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