American Sniper author shot dead at Texas gun range

Chris Kyle, a former US Navy SEAL and author of "American Sniper", a best-selling book about his service as a marksman in Iraq, was shot dead along with another man at a gun range in Texas, local media reported Sunday.

Kyle, 38, and a another man were found dead Saturday at Rough Creek Lodge's shooting range, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said, according to local newspapers Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

A gunman opened fire on the men around 3.30 pm Saturday, then fled in a pickup truck belonging to one of the victims, witnesses told sheriff's investigators, the reports said.

The gunman, identified as Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster, Texas, was arrested after a brief pursuit, Texas Highway Patrol spokesman Lonny Haschel said. The other victim was named as Chad Littlefield, aged 35, NBC News reported.

Kyle wrote the best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History," detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009.

"It just comes as a shock and it's staggering to think that after all Chris has been through, that this is how he meets his end, because there are so many ways he could have been killed" in Iraq, said Scott McEwen, who wrote the book with Kyle.

Rough Creek Lodge is located in Glen Rose, Texas, which is about 80 km southwest of Fort Worth. Rough Creek Lodge referred calls to the Erath County Sheriff's Office but Bryant was not immediately available for comment.

Kyle served four combat tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom and elsewhere, and won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his book.

After leaving the Navy, Kyle founded Craft International, a firm that provided combat and weapons training to military, police, corporate and civilian clients. In a 2012 interview with Time magazine he was asked what went through his mind when he aimed at a target. "The first time, you're not even sure you can do it," he said. "I'm not wondering if he has a family. I'm just trying to keep my guys safe. Every time I kill someone, he can't plant an IED. You don't think twice about it."

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