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In this April 6, 2012, photo, Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of the book "American Sniper," poses in Midlothian, Texas.

Paul Moseley, Associated Press

Eddie Ray Routh, charged with murder in connection with a shooting at a central Texas gun range that killed former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

, Associated Press

Untouchable in Iraq, super sniper is shot to death at Texas gun range

  • Article by: ADAM BERNSTEIN
  • Washington Post
  • February 4, 2013 - 6:16 AM

He said he killed 160 people, perhaps many more, making him one of the leading U.S. military snipers of all time. In the course of four combat deployments to Iraq, he said insurgents nicknamed him "the devil of Ramadi" and placed a $20,000 bounty on his head.

"After the first kill, the others come easy," Chris Kyle wrote last year in his best-selling memoir of Iraqi war service with the elite Navy SEALs. "I don't have to psych myself up, or do something special mentally -- I look through the scope, get my target in the cross hairs, and kill my enemy, before he kills one of my people."

Kyle's, 38, was killed Saturday in a double slaying at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort shooting range about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas. Authorities identified the shooter as Eddie Ray Routh, 25, a military veteran living in Lancaster, Texas. Routh was arraigned on two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

Both men were shot at close range, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman said. A motive was unclear.

Capt. Jason Upshaw with the Erath County Sheriff's Office said Routh used a semi-automatic handgun, which authorities later found at his home.

Routh has not made any comments indicating what his motive might have been, Upshaw said. Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was unemployed and "may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself."

The U.S. military confirmed Sunday that Routh was a corporal in the Marines, serving active duty from 2006 to 2010. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Haiti in 2010. His current duty status is listed as reserve.

After the shootings, Routh left the range in Kyle's black pickup truck, Bryant said, going to his sister's home in Midlothian, where he told her and her husband what he had done; Routh left, and the couple called local police.

Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas, about 8 p.m. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit.

Bronco buster, sniper

Kyle, former Texas ranch hand and bronco buster who called himself the antithesis of the "refined assassin," joined the SEALs in 1999 and served four combat deployments before retiring in 2009.

Kyle's steady nerve, his patience for stalking and his pinpoint marksmanship through his rifle scope earned him two awards of the Silver Star and five awards of the Bronze Star.

Kyle's book, "American Sniper: the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued Kyle in 2012 after Kyle claimed in his book that he slugged Ventura -- whom he called "Scruff Face" -- in a 2006 bar fight.

Ventura's suit argued that the punch never happened and the chapter defamed him. He denied prompting the alleged fight by saying that the SEALS "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq, or that Kyle "laid him out" at the California bar during a wake for a fellow SEAL.

Kyle's attorney had fought to have Ventura's suit dismissed, bringing forward witnesses who said Ventura made "anti-American" comments.

David Olsen, Ventura's attorney, said Sunday that his "first thought was for the family. It's a horrible tragedy." Ventura is in Mexico, he said, so they have not discussed the lawsuit's future. "One thing I do know is that Gov. Ventura does still want to clear his name," he said.

Kyle was at the Rough Creek Lodge for a charity event to support his Dallas-based security firm, Craft International. Kyle also helped start the nonprofit FITCO Cares Foundation to supply fitness equipment to wounded veterans.

He is survived by his wife, Taya, and their two children.

Staff writer Jenna Ross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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