Top Navy SEAL sniper killed on gun range of West Texas resort

Posted Saturday, Feb. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Chris Kyle, a retired Navy SEAL and the U.S. military's most lethal sniper, was fatally shot Saturday along with another man on the gun range of Rough Creek Lodge, a posh resort just west of Glen Rose, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said.

The 25-year-old suspect was apprehended about five hours later in Lancaster, southeast of Dallas, more than 70 miles from the scene, Bryant said.

The suspect, identified as Eddie Ray Routh, 25, was pursued to a house in Lancaster by officers, including a local SWAT team. Routh again try to flee in a vehicle but was stopped about 9 p.m. after spikes were laid across a road, Bryant said.

"The suspect has been caught and is in custody in Lancaster," the sheriff said. Erath County sheriff's investigators and Texas Rangers were securing a capital murder warrant, he said.

Witnesses told sheriff's investigators that the gunman opened fire on the two men around 3:30 p.m., then fled in a pickup truck belonging to one of the victims. The sheriff's department didn't get a call until around 6 p.m.

The motive of the shooting remained unclear, Bryant said. "Not a clue; absolutely no idea."

WFAA/Channel 8 quoted unnamed sources as saying that Kyle of Midlothian and a neighbor had taken Routh on an outing to help him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Routh turned on the men and shot them in the back, the report added.

The sheriff said he could not confirm how the victims were shot.

In January 2012, the Cleburne Times-Review reported that Routh of Lancaster was arrested in Johnson county on a DWI charge. Public records showed Routh previously lived in Camp LeJeune, N.C., site of a major Marine base.

The 38-year-old Kyle, who leaves a wife and two children, was the author of a 2012 autobiography , American Sniper.

A 1992 graduate of Midlothian High School, he attended Tarleton State University and tried to join the Navy in 1996 but was rejected after a physical exam revealed pins in his arm from a rodeo injury.

Three years later, Kyle was working on a ranch in Colorado when a Navy recruiter called. He was trained as a sniper and served 10 years.

He never disclosed exactly how many enemy combatants he shot, but the Pentagon certified more than 150 of his kills during four combat tours of Iraq. Some news reports credited him with as many as 255. His confirmed kills exceeded the exploits of legendary Marine Carlos Hathcock, whom Kyle called "the best sniper in the world." Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam.

In all, he was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

"I don't care about the medals," Kyle told the Star-Telegram in a 2012 interview. "I didn't do it for the money or the awards. I did it because I felt like it was something that needed to be done and it was honorable. I loved the guys."

A member of SEAL Team 3, Kyle picked off his targets from rooftops or windows of abandoned buildings during the 2003 war against Iraq, which toppled the Saddam Hussein regime. Primarily serving as a sniper and wounded twice, he provided "overwatch" protection for Marines and other U.S. troops and earned a reputation for his proficiency.

Most shots ranged from 200 to 1,200 yards. His longest, most remarkable kill -- from 1.2 miles away -- took out an insurgent aiming a rocket launcher at an approaching Army convoy.

During the second battle of Fallujah, Kyle said he killed about 40 insurgents. He shot several of them through an apartment window while lying atop an overturned baby crib.

From a second-story perch in Ramadi, Kyle spotted two men approaching on a motor scooter. As it slowed down, the rider in back removed a backpack and dropped it into a pothole, setting an improvised explosive device. As the scooter sped up, Kyle fired once from about 200 yards, taking aim at "cen

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