Legendary sniper was killed helping struggling veterans
Published 05/02/2013 | 04:00
The former top Navy sniper who authorities say was killed at a Texas shooting range was helping a fellow veteran find his way after leaving active duty.
Chris Kyle, who survived gunfights in Iraq and became the deadliest sniper in American military history, had left the Navy in 2009 after four tours of duty in Iraq.
The author of the best-selling book 'American Sniper' had found a way to maintain contact with fellow veterans and pass on what had helped him work through his struggles, establishing a non-profit called FITCO Cares, said the organisation's director Travis Cox.
"Chris struggled with some things," Mr Cox said. "He'd been through a lot and he handled it with grace. And he found a healthy outlet and was proactive in his approach to deal with those issues and wanted to help spread his healing, what worked for him, to others. And that's what he died doing."
Mr Kyle (38) was credited with killing more than 150 enemy fighters during his four tours. His status made him a prominent target for Iraqi insurgents, who placed a $20,000 (€14,700) bounty on his head and who were said to refer to him as the "Devil of Ramadi".
A hunting guide at the Rough Creek Lodge discovered the bodies of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield on Saturday. Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who came with them to the range, has been arrested for the murders, and was being held on $3m (€2.2m) bail.
Authorities say Mr Routh had left the range in Mr Kyle's pickup, drove to his sister's home, told her what happened and left. She called police and Mr Routh was eventually found at his home.
Mr Cox said he understood that Mr Kyle (38) and Mr Littlefield were helping Mr Routh work through his post-traumatic stress disorder, but that he did not know how they came in contact.
Littlefield, a 35-year-old friend and neighbour, was Mr Kyle's "workout buddy", and also volunteered his time to work with veterans. Both men were married and had children.
Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant has offered a similar account of the events leading to the shooting deaths.