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Accused Iraq War vet on suicide watch

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

(Photo)
Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and author of the book “American Sniper,” poses April 6 in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were fatally shot at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday.
(Paul Moseley ~ The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Iraq War veteran charged with killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend on a Texas shooting range had to be shocked with a stun gun and restrained in his jail cell overnight after becoming aggressive, a sheriff said Monday.

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, is on suicide watch in the Erath County Jail, where he's being held on $3 million bond, Sheriff Tommy Bryant said. Routh is charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper," and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range Saturday in Glen Rose, Texas.

Routh, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, appeared ready to assault jailers Sunday night when they entered his solitary confinement cell because he refused to return his food tray, Bryant said. After warnings, jailers used a stun gun once and then put Routh in a chair that restrains his arms and legs, Bryant said.

Bryant said Routh has an attorney but hasn't met with him at the jail in Stephenville, about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth, and he has not said anything to investigators.

Authorities said the three men arrived at the sprawling Rough Creek Lodge on Saturday, and a hunting guide discovered the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield about two hours later and called 911. Kyle and Littlefield were shot more than once, Bryant said Sunday.

Routh then drove Kyle's pickup to his sister's house in Midlothian, Texas, and told her that he killed two people, and she called police, Erath County Sheriff's Capt. Jason Upshaw said Monday. Routh was arrested after a short police pursuit in Lancaster, Texas, near his home.

Routh joined the Marines in 2006 and rose to the rank of corporal in 2010. His military specialty was small-arms technician, commonly known as an armorer. He had been stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and in the Haiti disaster relief mission in 2010.

He now is in the individual ready reserve, which means he's a civilian. He could be called to duty, but it's uncommon unless he volunteers, said 1st Lt. Dominic Pitrone of the Marine Forces Services public affairs office.

Travis Cox, director of FITCO Cares -- the not-for-profit organization that Kyle set up to give in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans -- said he believes Kyle and Littlefield were helping Routh work through PTSD.

Cox said Routh's mother may have asked Kyle to help her son, but Cox didn't know how Routh and Kyle knew each other. He said the shooting range event was not a FITCO session.

Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver, who served with Kyle in Iraq in 2006, wasn't surprised that Kyle apparently used a shooting range to help someone with PTSD.

"For us, for warriors, that's a skill set that has become very familiar, very comfortable for us," said Denver, a lieutenant commander in a reserve SEAL team. "So I actually see it as kind of a perfect use of Chris' unique skill set and expertise of which he has very few peers."

Kyle, 38, left the Navy in 2009 after four tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the military's most lethal snipers. Littlefield, 35, was Kyle's friend, neighbor and "workout buddy," and also volunteered his time to work with veterans, Cox said.

FITCO Cares offered life coaching for veterans, a daily support group and weekly group counseling. Sometimes veterans in other states would video conference in to counseling sessions, Cox said.

"He [Kyle] didn't have any fear at all as far as working with an extreme case," Cox said. "Just like in combat he would take it on head-on and do whatever he could to give these guys assistance."


Stengle reported from Lancaster. Associated Press writers Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


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