Probe Of 'American Sniper' Shooting Death Continues

10:56 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and author of the book "American Sniper," was killed at a Texas shooting range on Saturday. (Photo: Paul Moseley, AP)
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(USA Today) -- Texas authorities probing the weekend shooting deaths of former Navy SEAL and American Sniper author Chris Kyle and another man at a Texas gun range are looking into whether the suspect, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, might have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Police in Erath County, Texas, have not given a motive for the fatal shootings Saturday of Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, at the Rough Creek Lodge west of Glen Rose.

Capt. Jason Upshaw of the Erath County sheriff's office said Sunday that the suspect, Eddie Ray Routh, 25, had made no statements to indicate a motive for the shootings.

"I don't know that we'll ever know," Upshaw said. "He's the only one that knows that."

On Monday, Upshaw told the Stephenville Empire Tribune that Routh was being segregated from other inmates, that there was no sign of a struggle at the scene and that it appeared the victims were target practicing when they were shot. "This is still under investigation, and I can't release any more details about the crime scene," he said.

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

Travis Cox, president of FITCO Cares, a non-profit organization founded by Kyle, told the Associated Press on Sunday that Routh suffered from PTSD and that Kyle and Littlefield had taken him to the gun range in an attempt to help him.

In his book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, Kyle wrote of his more than150 kills in the Iraq War.

Harry Croft, a psychiatrist formerly with the Army who says he has evaluated about 7,000 veterans with PTSD, says it would be "extremely rare" for a PTSD sufferer to attack someone "outside of their own circle."

"Unless there's something else going on," says Croft, author of I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall, a book for PTSD sufferers and their families. "That something else might be drugs, alcohol or perhaps an underlying, co-occurring psychological disease, such as psychosis, paranoid disorder or severe bipolar disorder with psychosis."

The Texas shootings have stirred memories of other recent shootings at gun ranges.

It's difficult to determine how many people are killed annually at shooting ranges in the USA. Neither the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives nor the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting system specifically track shootings at gun ranges.

There have been at least seven fatal shootings -- intentional and accidental -- at gun ranges over the past several years.

Among them:

  • In November 2012, John Marsh III of Columbia, S.C., accidentally shot and killed himself while dismantling his 40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun at Shooter's Choice, a gun store and shooting range in West Columbia, according to Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman.

  • On Oct. 25, 2011, Jared King, 29, fatally shot himself at the Bullet Hole Shooting Complex in Bexar County, Texas. The Bexar County Medical Examiner's office ruled the shooting a suicide.

  • In November 2010, Kristin Hermeler, 29, of Surrey Hills, Australia, fatally shot herself at Family Shooting Center in Cherry Creek State Park near Englewood, Colo. Authorities said she and her twin sister, Candice, shot themselves in an apparent suicide pact. Candice Hermeler survived.

  • On July 21, 2010, Todd Getgen, a 42-year-old attorney was shot eight to nine times as he practiced at a North Middleton Township, Pa., shooting range. Raymond Peake, 66, a former prison guard, pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors said Peake coveted Getgen's custom AR-15 rifle.

  • In April 2009, Marie Moore, 44, of central Florida fatally shot her 22-year-old son, Mitchell Moore, at the Shoot Straight range in Casselberry, Fla., about 10 miles north of Orlando, then fatally shot herself. In a suicide note, Moore -- who had a history of mental illness, according to her family -- wrote: "I'm so sorry. I had to send my son to heaven and myself to hell."

  • On Oct. 26, 2008, Christopher Bizilj, 8, accidentally shot himself in the head while firing a Micro Uzi submachine gun at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club in Westfield, Mass.

  • On April 13, 2007, Jeffrey Lane Dudney, 42, who was facing charges of attempted murder, took five people hostage at the Shooting Sports Inc. gun store and shooting range. Over several hours, he released two of the hostages before fatally shooting himself.

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