On February 2, Navy SEAL and author of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, 38, was shot and killed in a double slaying at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort shooting range. The shooter was identified as Eddie Ray Routh, a military veteran living in Lancaster, Texas.
With 160 confirmed kills out of a claim of 250, Kyle is one of the leading U.S. military snipers in history. He had been nicknamed “The Devil of Ramadi” by his insurgents over the course of four combat deployments to Iraq, and he had a $20,000 bounty on his head. “After the first kill, the others come easy,” Chris Kyle wrote in his memoir of serving in Iraq with the elite Navy SEALs.
Kyle joined the SEALs in 1999. He called himself the antithesis of the “refined assassin,” and served four combat deployments before retiring in 2009.
The SEAL’s specialty is in surgical strike forces. Kyle’s steady nerve, patience, and pinpoint marksmanship through the scope of his rifle are the key features which earned him two Silver Star awards and five Bronze Star awards.
The shooter, Routh, was arraigned on two counts of capital murder, in the deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield, another man present at the shooting range. Both were shot at close range, and any motive was unclear.
Over the past year, Kyle has appeared on late-night talk shows and in the NBC competition show “Stars Earn Stripes,” a show that pairs military and law enforcement veterans with actors in drill exercises. However, in an interview with Time magazine, he agreed that it was “kind of frowned on” in his circles to become a public figure. “But I’m not trying to glorify myself,” he said. “I didn’t want to put the number of kills I had in there. I wanted to get it out about the sacrifices military families have to make.”
Kyle was born in 1974 and grew up on a ranch in Odessa, Texas. He hunted deer and pheasant from a young age with a bolt-action 30-06 rifle and rode bulls and broncs in rodeos. Growing up, he says, Kyle’s two wishes were to be a cowboy and to be in the military. He grew up “extremely patriotic” and “riding horses.”
Kyle was at the Rough Creek Lodge for a charity event, supporting his Dallas-based security firm, Craft International. He helped to start a non-profit group, the FITCO Cares Foundation, to supply at-home fitness equipment for wounded veterans.