CAPTION:A former US Navy SEAL sniper who was responsible for 160 kills during his career has been shot and killed at a Texas gun range.
Chris Kyle, who wrote a book called American Sniper about his military service from 1999 to 2009, was found dead at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range on Saturday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, quoting Erath County sheriff Tommy Bryant.
A second man, named as Chad Littlefield, was also killed.
A third man, identified as 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, has been charged with two counts of murder.
Local police said both victims had been shot at close range.
“It just comes as a shock and it’s staggering to think that after all Chris has been through, that this is how he meets his end, because there are so many ways he could have been killed” in Iraq, said Scott McEwen, who co-wrote American Sniper with Kyle.
Routh, described in local media reports as a former Marine who suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), was arrested at his Lancaster, Texas home several hours after the shooting, having led police on a car chase.
According to a posting on a website run by members of the Special Operations Forces community, Kyle had been volunteering his time to help Marine Corps veterans suffering from PTSD and mentoring them.
“Part of this process involved taking these veterans to the range,” the posting on SOFREP.com said.
Rough Creek Lodge is located in Glen Rose, Texas, which is 80 kilometres south-west of Fort Worth.
‘You don’t think twice about it’
Kyle, considered one of America’s deadliest snipers, served four combat tours of duty and won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his book.
After leaving the Navy he founded Craft International, a firm that provided combat and weapons training to military, police, corporate and civilian clients.
In a 2012 interview with Time magazine he was asked what went through his mind when he aimed at a target.
“The first time, you’re not even sure you can do it,” he said.
“But I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe.
“Every time I kill someone, he can’t plant an IED.
“You don’t think twice about it.”
Kyle is the co-author of another book coming out in May under the title American Gun – A History of the US in Ten Firearms.
For the book he fired 10 weapons and discussed their parts in US history.
In the wake of the slayings of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in December, Kyle was interviewed in January about rising calls for curbing gun violence in the United States.
He told the website guns.com that he favoured arming teachers who have been screened and trained, and spoke against restrictions on gun owners.