The outing to the firing range was intended to be routine. Instead, former United States Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot and killed by a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who they were trying to mentor on a February afternoon in 2013.
Prior to that unexpected turn of events, Kyle’s narrative had been the stuff of folklore, if not controversy. Veterans like Chris Kyle, who in 2012 wrote American Sniper and was widely hailed as the deadliest sniper in American history, came under fire after it was revealed that he had lied or exaggerated about some of the claims he made in his book.
On the other side, in the years before his death, Kyle had dedicated time to assisting other veterans in making the transition back to civilian life. Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine in his twenties who had mental health issues after leaving the service, was the man he had intended to inflict the same fate upon. Kyle helped Routh out after being approached by Routh’s mother, who implored him to do so. Given that he had previously assisted other veterans, he knew what was needed.
However, as Kyle and Littlefield took him to the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range in Erath County, Texas, they saw how unstable he was. As they were about to crash, Kyle sent a text to Littlefield reading, “This dude is straight up nuts.”
How Chris Kyle Became The “American Sniper”
Christopher Scott Kyle, who was born on April 8, 1974, in Odessa, Texas, always wanted to be a soldier. In 2012, he expressed his desire to “be a cowboy join in the military” to the Dallas Morning News.
So, Kyle gave the cowboy lifestyle a shot. An injury sustained while bull riding at a rodeo reportedly inspired Kyle to serve in the United States Army. As soon as he turned 25, Kyle enlisted as a sniper in the United States Navy SEALs.
— Official Chris Kyle (@ChrisKyleFrog) August 29, 2019
After then, Kyle’s skills as a marksman were on full display. During his 2003 deployment to Iraq, Kyle reportedly killed 160 people, much surpassing the previous record of 109 set by Vietnam War shooter Adelbert Waldron.
How The Real “American Sniper” Died
Jodi Routh contacted Chris Kyle on January 25th, 2013 at the primary school where he and his children were enrolled and where she was employed. Jodi told Kyle about how her son Eddie, now 25 years old, had a hard time reintegrating into society after serving in the military.
Eddie Ray Routh, like Kyle, had served in Iraq. In 2006, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and in 2007, he was sent overseas to serve as an armorer. The New Yorker reports that Routh suffered from alcoholism, employment instability, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation. Strange fancies, such as thinking he was Dracula or that a tapeworm was devouring his body, also plagued him.
Even after being diagnosed with PTSD and given medication, Routh’s mental health remained unstable.
Chris Kyle, per Jodi’s request, will get together with Eddie soon. He reportedly promised her, “I’m going to do everything I can to help your son.” A week later, Kyle made good on his promise. Kyle picked up Routh and took him to a shooting range at the Rough Creek Lodge in rural Texas, with his friend Chad Littlefield riding shotgun.
To quote Kyle’s wife Taya in The New Yorker: “give someone who was hurting an opportunity to chat on the journey, spend a small bit of time shooting, and then give him a little more time to talk on the way home, to find some outlets and resources.”
But it looks like the ride with Eddie Ray Routh was tense. Apparently, Routh informed a cop that Kyle and Littlefield “wouldn’t talk to me,” as reported by the Hollywood Reporter. In an interview given after his arrest, he elaborated on his sense of impending danger: “If I didn’t take out [Kyle’s] soul, he was going to take mine next.”
Littlefield and Kyle were equally unnerved by the presence of their passenger. Kyle texted Littlefield on the way to the range, “This dude is straight up insane.” Watch my six, Littlefield warned as he turned around.
Yet at first, the day seemed to carry on normally. At around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the guys showed up at the firing range and hoisted a red Bravo flag to signal that it was in use. Then Routh made his move.
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