“American Sniper” Author Shot, Killed at Gun Range

Shooting suspect arrested in Lancaster after short chase

A decorated former Navy SEAL who authored the best-selling book "American Sniper" was one of two people shot and killed at an Erath County shooting range Saturday, the Texas Highway Patrol said.

Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel told NBC 5 early Sunday morning that Chris Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed at a shooting range at Rough Creek Resort and Lodge in Glen Rose late Saturday afternoon.

"The suspected gunman was identified as Eddie Ray Routh, of Lancaster," Haschel said. "Routh is believed to have shot the victims around 3:30 p.m. He left the range then in a Ford pickup truck. He traveled back to his residence in Lancaster."

Haschel said Routh was taken into custody after a brief police pursuit. Lancaster police said Routh was arrested along Interstate 35E near Camp Wisdom Road in Lancaster.

NBC 5 crews reported that a Ford pickup truck was recovered after Routh was taken into custody. 

NBC 5 sources say Routh was in Kyle's pickup truck when he was arrested, but Haschel could not confirm that information.

Haschel said Routh will face capital murder charges.

"He was transported to the Lancaster Police Department, where he's been arraigned on two counts of capital murder," Haschel said. "Eventually, he'll be transferred back to Erath County, absolutely. But this evening, he's being arraigned on two counts of capital murder here in Lancaster."

Routh was no longer in the Lancaster jail later Sunday morning, but the Erath County sheriff would not say whether he had arrived.

The Stephenville Empire-Tribune first reported that Kyle and another man had been shot at Rough Creek.

Empire-Tribune reporter Sara Vanden Berge told NBC 5 late Saturday night that it did not sound like an accidental shooting but appeared to be an intentional shooting.

Vanden Berge said her understanding was that Kyle had an open invitation to visit and use the range at Rough Creek and did not have a guide with him.

A source told her that the man suspected in the shootings was a veteran and may have been doing some sort of shooting therapy, she told NBC 5.

Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range, said Travis Cox, the director of a nonprofit Kyle helped found. Littlefield was Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy," Cox told The Associated Press on Sunday morning.

"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.

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," Cox 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."

Cox described Littlefield as a gentle, kind-hearted man who often called or emailed him with ideas for events or fundraisers to help veterans.

"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. An,d unfortunately, this thing happened," Cox said.

According to public records, Routh previously lived in Camp LeJeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

According to the Cleburne Times-Review, Routh was cited in early January 2012 on driving while intoxicated with an open container.

Kyle, who was born in West Texas and grew up in Dallas, served four combat tours in Iraq and elsewhere between the start of the war and 2008.

Kyle is believed to have been one of the best snipers in the world and holds the most career sniper kills in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills.

The previous American record was 109, according to Kyle's New York Times No. 1 bestselling book "American Sniper."

Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation, according to Craft International, the company he founded after leaving the military.

According to his biography on the company's website, Iraqi insurgents dubbed Kyle "al-Shaitan" ("the devil") and placed a bounty on his head.

Craft International offers training to military and law enforcement.

Kyle is survived by his wife and two children.

FITCO Cares said in a statement that it was committed to making sure his memory lives on forever.

"Please pray for all those who loved Chris," the foundation said. "He will be forever missed."

Kyle competed on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" last summer.

The reality show paired eight celebrities with people from a branch of the military or a first-responder agency to compete in missions inspired by military exercises. Kyle teamed up with actor Dean Cain, who competed for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Cain tweeted on Saturday:

"2013 started out fantastic...Now it's a heartbreak. #SadDay"

Cain retweeted other messages of condolence for Kyle and his family. Other "Stars Earn Stripes" participants also tweeted about Kyle on Saturday night.

NBC 5's Chris Van Horne contributed to this report.

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