Family of slain man defends target practice as therapy

Posted Saturday, Feb. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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MIDLOTHIAN -- The man killed alongside a former Navy SEAL sniper at a Texas shooting range was helping his friend work with a troubled war veteran, and the outing was intended to be a "therapeutic situation," his relatives said Friday after his funeral.

Hundreds of people attended the service for Chad Littlefield, who along with his friend, American Sniper author Chris Kyle, was fatally shot last weekend. Authorities have said the former Marine they were trying to help suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and turned on the two men at the shooting range.

Littlefield's father-in-law, Tom Montgomery, defended helping troubled war veterans through target practice. He said that Kyle regularly took veterans to the gun range and that Littlefield often assisted in helping veterans.

"As a gesture of friendship, that's the only way I can describe it, he was asked to help Chris in this endeavor," Montgomery said. "I think this was a form of relaxation, a form of therapy."

Police say the suspect, 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, shot Littlefield and Kyle multiple times Feb. 2 before fleeing. He later told his sister and brother-in-law that the men "were out shooting target practice and he couldn't trust them so he killed them before they could kill him," according to a search warrant. Routh is jailed with bail set at $3 million.

The men could not have anticipated Routh's actions, Montgomery said, adding that Littlefield enjoyed helping Kyle with his nonprofit, which provided in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans.

Kyle, 38, established the nonprofit after leaving the Navy in 2009 following four tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the military's most lethal snipers. His wartime account, American Sniper, was a bestseller.

"I have to believe that Chris Kyle with all his military background and specialized training was quite capable of reading people," Montgomery said.

Hundreds turned out Friday to honor Littlefield at First Baptist Church in Midlothian, near Dallas. Although Littlefield wasn't in the military, Patriot Guard Riders led the procession as a tribute to his efforts for veterans and formed a ring around the parking lot and church entrance. Hundreds of other people lined local streets to watch the procession.

Littlefield, who had a 7-year-old daughter with his wife, Leanne, was remembered for his bedrock character.

"He was a man of deep commitment and character," the Rev. Kenny Lowman said during the service.

Montgomery said that Littlefield and Kyle bonded a few years ago as soccer dads watching their children play and that the families occasionally vacationed together.

"People develop these ethics over a lifetime," he said. "I think Chad was the type of person who developed them and did what was right, even when no one was looking."

A memorial service for Kyle is planned for Monday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

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