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Texas police hold suspect in fatal shooting of ex-SEAL Chris Kyle

February 03, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, author of the book "American Sniper," in Midlothian, Texas, last year.
Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, author of the book "American Sniper,"… (Paul Moseley / AP Photo /…)

HOUSTON—Dallas-area police have arrested a suspect in connection with the fatal shooting Saturday of former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and a second man at a north Texas shooting range.

Late Saturday, Lancaster, Texas, police arrested Eddie Ray Routh, 35, a man they say matches the description of the suspect wanted in connection with the slaying of Kyle and another man at a resort shooting range in Glen Rose in Erath County, about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

The Somervell County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call around 5:30 p.m. reporting the shooting at Rough Creek Lodge, near the county line, and they referred the call to Erath County, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel.

Erath County deputies responded and found Kyle, 38, and 35-year-old Chad Littlefield had been fatally shot, Haschel said. 

The suspect was believed to have shot the victims at about 3:30 p.m. at the Rough Creek Lodge resort's shooting range before fleeing in a Ford pickup truck, Haschel said.

The motive for the shooting was unclear. Investigators told WFAA that Kyle, who lived about 25 miles south of Dallas in Midlothian, had taken his neighbor Littlefield and Routh out to help Routh deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the wake of the shooting, Erath officials issued an alert for authorities to be on the lookout for Routh, who was believed to be driving a black Ford F-350 truck with large tires and rims.

Routh returned home to Lancaster at about 8 p.m., Haschel said, and after a brief chase that ended on a highway in Dallas, officers arrested him, according to Lancaster police spokesman Lt. Kelly Hooten.

Hooten told The Times he did not know if Routh was armed when he was detained, but that he did not resist. Routh was taken into custody, arraigned on two counts of capital murder and sent back to Erath County on Sunday, Hooten said.

A woman who answered the phone at Rough Creek Lodge where the shooting allegedly occurred declined comment and referred calls to the Erath County sheriff's office.

Erath County sheriff’s officials could not be reached for comment but plan to hold a briefing at 2 p.m. CST, Haschel said.

Public records show that Routh previously lived in Camp LeJeune, N.C., home to a major Marine base.

Kyle, a native of Odessa, Texas, wrote the bestselling book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009.

A 1992 graduate of Midlothian High School, he attended Tarleton State University before joining the Navy and serving for a decade,  earning two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Kyle said he wrote the book because, “I wanted to be able to let people know about the sacrifices that not only people in the service make, but what their families go through. I knew this would give me a voice so I could speak about the guys I know who were killed. I wanted to get their story out and I wanted to raise awareness for veterans.”

He left the Navy in 2009, returned to Texas and became president of Craft International, a Dallas-based company that provides training to military and law enforcement professionals. Officials there did not return email after the shooting.

Kyle also appeared as an "operative" on the NBC reality show "Stars Earn Stripes," in which "celebrities are challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises."

He was married and had two children.

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