Feb 3 (Reuters) - The man accused of gunning down former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a prominent military sniper, and a second man at a Texas shooting range has been arraigned on two counts of capital murder, the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Sunday.
Eddie Ray Routh, 25, was accused of killing Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, a neighbor of Kyle, on Saturday afternoon at the Rough Creek Lodge, about 50 miles southwest (80 km) of Fort Worth, the department said.
“They were shot at close range,” said department spokesman Sergeant Lonny Haschel said.
Kyle, considered one of America’s deadliest snipers after killing 160 people during his career as U.S. Navy SEAL sniper, wrote the book “American Sniper” about his military service from 1999 to 2009.
Routh, described in local media reports as a former Marine who suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), was arrested at his Lancaster, Texas home several hours after the shooting, having led police on a chase in his pickup truck.
“He was taken into custody after a brief pursuit,” Haschel said.
According to a posting on a website run by members of the Special Operations Forces community, Kyle had been volunteering his time to help Marine Corps veterans suffering from PTSD and mentoring them.
“Part of this process involved taking these veterans to the range,” said the posting on SOFREP.com.
WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth reported that the two men had taken Routh to the shooting range for the day to help him deal with his PTSD.
Routh was arraigned at the Lancaster municipal jail on Saturday on two counts of capital murder, a spokesman for the department of public safety said. The Erath County Sheriff’s Office planned a news conference later on Sunday.
“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, Scott McEwen, who wrote the book with Kyle, told Reuters.
Kyle served four combat tours of duty in Iraq and elsewhere, and he 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.
Kyle is the co-author of another book coming out in May titled “American Gun - A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms.”
In the wake of the slayings of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in December, Kyle was interviewed in January about rising calls for curbing U.S. gun violence. He told the website guns.com he favored arming teachers who have been screened and trained and spoke against restrictions on gun owners. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Will Dunham)