Former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle was fatally shot along with another man Saturday on a Texas gun range.
The Navy confirmed local reports that Kyle had been killed, saying he had served from 1999 to 2009, and was a SEAL and an E-7 Chief Petty Officer.
Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Kyle, 38, and a second man were found dead at Rough Creek Lodge’s shooting range west of Glen Rose, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Stephenville Empire-Tribune. Glen Rose is about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Bryant did not immediately return phone calls to The Associated Press seeking comment late Saturday and early Sunday. A woman who answered the phone at the lodge where the shooting occurred declined comment and referred calls to the sheriff’s office.
The suspect has been identified as Eddie Ray Routh, and has been taken into custody by the Lancaster Police Department after he fled the scene in one of the victims’ cars, reports CBS affiliate KTVT-TV in Dallas. Routh was stopped about 9 p.m. after spikes were laid across a road, reports the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. Public records show that Routh previously lived in at the Marine base in Camp LeJeune, N.C., the Star-Telegram reports.
Lancaster police did not immediately return calls for comment.
The motive for the shooting was unclear.
Kyle wrote the best-selling book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009. He served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and elsewhere, and won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his book.
Kyle’s co-author, Scott McEwen, said in a statement to CBS News: “Chris was an amazing individual, a great patriot, a great father. He was a true inspiration to me. I don’t know all the details. It just doesn’t make sense. Spirits were working through him, but a larger voice called him. My thoughts and prayers are with Taya and his children”
After leaving the Navy, Kyle founded Craft International, a firm that provided combat and weapons training to military, police, corporate, and civilian clients, Reuters reports.
Kyle also helped establish the FITCO Cares foundation, according to its website. Kyle himself described the foundation as helping “our brave men and women struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, (get) back in shape and (acclimate) back to civilian life,” according to Reuters.
Kyle was sued by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura over a portion of the book that claims Kyle punched Ventura in a 2006 bar fight over unpatriotic remarks. Ventura says the punch never happened and that the claim by Kyle defamed him.
Kyle had asked that Ventura’s claims of invasion of privacy and “unjust enrichment” be dismissed, saying there was no legal basis for them. But a federal judge said the lawsuit should proceed. Both sides were told to be ready for trial by Aug. 1.