The fateful day of February 2, 2013, marked the untimely death of former US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a prominent figure known for his exceptional marksmanship and combat skills. At the age of 38, he was tragically shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh, a former marine, in a shocking turn of events that left the nation in disbelief.
Kyle, alongside his friend Chad Littlefield, fell victim to a barrage of gunfire, sustaining a total of 13 gunshot wounds from weapons Kyle himself had provided Routh for a shooting range outing they were on. The trip, which was meant to be a recreational activity, turned into a horrifying crime scene that would haunt many.
As a former Navy SEAL, Kyle boasted an impressive combat record, claiming to have taken down 255 enemies. The US Department of Defense verified 160 of those kills, solidifying his reputation. His remarkable story became the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film “American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and featuring Bradley Cooper in the lead role as Kyle.
Struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his service in Iraq and his involvement in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, Routh, the ex-marine, battled with mental health issues. Routh’s mother, familiar with Kyle’s efforts to aid fellow veterans dealing with PTSD, reached out to him for assistance in helping her son cope with his own trauma. Both men shared their struggles with PTSD, a common bond that would have tragic consequences.
In an attempt to provide Routh with an outlet for his pain, Kyle and Littlefield decided to take him on a shooting session at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range. This outing, meant to bring relief and camaraderie, ultimately led to an unthinkable tragedy.
As the three men drove to the shooting range, with Kyle driving and Littlefield in the front passenger seat, a sense of unease began to pervade. They were reportedly apprehensive about Routh’s behavior, which was later revealed during the trial.
In a chilling revelation, the details of Kyle’s final text message emerged during the trial. Sending the text while en route to the shooting range, Kyle messaged Littlefield: “This dude is straight up nuts.” Littlefield responded, “He’s right behind me, watch my six,” a military term asking for someone to cover their back.
Upon apprehending Routh, police reported that he was frustrated by the lack of communication from the two men. A forensic psychologist who interviewed Routh in prison later concluded that he believed Kyle and Littlefield were plotting to kill him due to the array of firearms they had brought with them.
Despite their unease about Routh’s behavior, Kyle and Littlefield continued to the shooting range, unknowingly sealing their tragic fate. Routh recounted in his trial that he shot Littlefield first, firing seven rounds that struck the 35-year-old in various parts of his body. Following this act, Routh turned his weapon on Kyle, firing multiple times and hitting him in the head, chest, shoulder, and arm.
During his trial, Routh entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. However, the jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The horrifying incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by veterans dealing with mental health issues and the consequences of untreated trauma.