Ex-SEAL Chris Kyle remembered after shooting death

5:13 PM, Feb 3, 2013   |    comments
Chris Kyle was a former Navy SEAL and author of the book 'American Sniper.'(Photo: Paul Moseley, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, via AP)
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Larry Copeland, USA TODAY 

American Sniper author Chris Kyle, who was killed Saturday along with another man at a Texas gun range, was "an incredible guy who was always about family, about country and about God," his co-author said Sunday.

"During his life, he struggled to get those into the proper order," said Jim DeFelice, 56, of Warwick, N.Y., one of the co-authors of Kyle's best-selling book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, which details Kyle's kills of 150-plus insurgents from 1999 to 2009.

"It was always God first, but he struggled sometimes with how to balance his responsibility to his country with his responsibility to his family," DeFelice said.

Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Lodge, west of Glen Rose, Texas, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Police arrested Eddie Ray Routh, 25, of Lancaster, and he was arraigned Saturday evening on two counts of capital murder, according to Sgt. Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Routh is being held in the Erath County Jail under a $3 million bond.

Police said Routh fired on Kyle and Littlefield around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, then fled in a Ford pickup. At around 8 p.m., Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit.

The motive for the shooting was unclear.

Travis Cox, director of FITCO Cares, a non-profit group Kyle helped start to help fellow veterans, told the Associated Press that the former sniper and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range trying to help a veteran "who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him out, try to, you know, give him a helping hand and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them."

In a statement, Cox said that Kyle served four tours of duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL. "Chris died doing what filled his heart with passion - serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). His service, life and premature death will never be in vain. "

Cox, 27, who served in special operations in the Marines and was a scout sniper and Iraq veteran, said in an interview that Kyle was "a servant-leader."

"The man gave his life to serving veterans," Cox said. "He served them faithfully." FITCO Cares, also known as the Heroes Project, provides home fitness equipment, health club memberships and counseling to veterans.

Cox, who said he was not aware of a possible motive for the "tragic, senseless crime," said Kyle is survived by his wife and two children.

Beginning Jan. 12, 2012, American Sniper spent 27 weeks on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list, rising as high as No. 10.

DeFelice said that when he first met Kyle about 2½ years ago, "The first thing he told me was that he was going to use every cent (from the book) for the families of the two SEALs who were killed with him when he was in Iraq."

Kyle was sued by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura over a claim in the book that Kyle punched Ventura in a bar fight over unpatriotic remarks in 2006. Ventura says that the punch never happened and that the claim defamed him.

Kyle had sought to have Ventura's claims of invasion of privacy and "unjust enrichment" dismissed, saying there was no legal basis for them. A federal judge said the lawsuit should proceed. Both sides were told to be ready for trial by Aug.1.

Contributing: Associated Press

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