Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL of NBC's 'Stars Earn Stripes,' Killed in Texas
On Saturday, Feb. 2, former Navy SEAL and author ("American Sniper") Chris Kyle was one of two people shot and killed at a gun range at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Erath County, Texas, said U.S. Marshals.
After a brief chase that ended in Lancaster, south of Dallas -- with the suspect reportedly driving Kyle's truck -- officers arrested 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, described by Dallas-Forth Worth ABC affiliate WFAA (Channel 8) as a "former Marine who is said to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome."
The identity of the second victim has not yet been released.
According to the website of SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Situation Report), Kyle was volunteering to help veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and taking the veterans to the gun range was part of the process he used.
(UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News reports Kyle was attending a charity event at Rough Creek on behalf of his Dallas-based security firm, Craft International, and his childhood friend, Hudson Hartson.)
Married with two children, Kyle, 38, was born in Odessa, Texas, and served four tours of duty in Iraq, twice suffering gunshot wounds. He left the Navy in 2009 and became president of Craft, which trains military and law-enforcement personnel.
Published in January 2012, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" recalled Kyle's career as a SEAL sniper -- he was a member of SEAL Team 3 -- recording the most career kills in U.S. military history. According to the book blurb, the Pentagon has confirmed more than 150 of Kyles' kills, but has declined to verify the total number. It also states that Iraqi insurgents nicknamed Kyle al-Shaitan, or "the devil," and placed a bounty on his head.
Kyle earned two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars With Valor and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.
This past summer, Kyle was one of the "operatives" on the NBC reality show, "Stars Earn Stripes," in which he was paired with actor Dean Cain, who demonstrated an effusive affection and admiration for Kyle.
On Saturday night, Cain tweeted from @RealDeanCain: "2013 started out fantastic ... Now it's a heartbreak. #SadDay."
Another participant in "Stars Earn Stripes" was Todd Palin, husband of 2008 GOP vice-presidential contender and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Gov. Palin posted a Facebook note honoring Kyle, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle tonight. Todd and I first met Chris in Pella, Iowa, when he helped out with security for the premiere of the film 'The Undefeated.' And later we became friends with Chris when he was on 'Stars Earn Stripes' with Todd. Chris was a wonderful man, a good friend, and a true American hero who loved our country and served honorably. He was loved and admired by many, and he will never be forgotten."
Contacted for comment by Zap2it, Todd Palin texted, "He was a great American hero, this
Asked if Cain is distraught, Palin texted, "He is. The 'SES' show was life changing for all of us. Chris and Dean were like brothers. The 'SES' group was texting earlier, very sad."
Former CIA operative Roger Flores also knew Kyle and emailed this tribute on Saturday night:
"Of all the places warriors meet up, the last place was in the Middle East. We just looked at each other and nodded our heads at each other. We did not mention our names to each other, due to I was with a (ret.) Major General.
"Years later, I was asked to be an adviser on a TV show, 'Stars Earn Stripes,' and standing there was Chris Kyle. We both looked at each other and said, 'What the hell are you doing here?'' We never spoke about what we did overseas, on the show. He spoke greatly of his wife and kids, and how he loved them and was happy being home.
"We all know Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper with 147 confirmed kills. As we sat there on the movie set, we talked about our wife and kids. I will never forget his story, when he arrived home from the time we last mete, the first thing his wife said to him was, 'Thank goodness you're home. Can you watch the kids, since you had a relaxing trip over there?'
"Then he told me he didn't talk shop as a SEAL and just wanted to be a husband and dad. I will remember him as a husband to his wife and father to his kids."
A few minutes later, Flores emails again and writes, "255 confirmed kills -- Chris Kyle."
In the video below, recorded at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas in January 2013, Kyle talks to Guns.com about gun violence, gun control and the challenges facing veterans returning to civilian life ...