Ex-Marine Routh charged with famed US sniper's death

Eddie Ray Routh

An Iraq war veteran was facing murder charges on Monday for allegedly gunning down two men, one of whom was a former Navy SEAL sniper whose exploits in the same conflict were detailed in a best-selling book.

Chris Kyle, who wrote 'American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History', and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot dead at a firing range in Glen Rose, Texas on Saturday, authorities said.

The two men are believed to have taken the suspected gunman, former US Marine Eddie Routh, 25, to the range where the shooting took place.

Captain Jason Upshaw of the Erath County Sheriff's Office said yesterday that Kyle and Littlefield died of gunshot wounds and that Routh had been charged with two counts of murder and one count of capital murder.

"We lost two American heroes," Upshaw said, noting that the weapon thought to have been used in the incident, a semi-automatic handgun, had been found at Routh's home.

Kyle, 38, was credited with more than 150 confirmed kills during a decorated decade-long service career that included four tours in Iraq.

A member of SEAL Team 3, Kyle he provided protection for Marines and other US troops in combat zones. His longest and most remarkable kill -- from two kilometers away -- took out an insurgent aiming a rocket launcher at an approaching Army convoy.

Since leaving the SEALs, he had helped run a support group for struggling ex-military personnel.

His memoir recounted battle experiences in the Iraqi rebel strongholds of Ramadi and Fallujah, and he wrote that Al-Qaeda militants whose comrades he had gunned down dubbed him 'The Devil', and said they had put a bounty on his head.

Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was believed to be suffering from "some type of mental illness", or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that his mother may have contacted the veterans support foundation that Kyle was involved with.

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