Ex-Navy Sniper Murdered at Gun Range

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 3 2013 9:52 AM

Ex-Navy Sniper and Author Chris Kyle Murdered at Texas Gun Range

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Photograph from Chris Kyle's Facebook profile

Former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest American sharpshooter, was one of two men shot and killed Saturday on a gun range in Texas Saturday. Kyle wrote about his experiences shooting insurgents in the best-selling book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.  Chad Littlefield was also killed. Eddie Routh, a 25-year-old former Marine who reportedly suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, was arrested after a brief chase, reports the Dallas Morning News. The motive for the shootings is unclear but Routh is also “an expert marksman” and shot the two victims at point-blank range, according to law enforcement sources cited by WFAA, a local ABC affiliate.

Kyle, who served four combat tours in Iraq, claimed that while official Pentagon figures state he killed 160 people, the real total was 255, notes the BBC. Iraqi insurgents apparently nicknamed Kyle “the devil” and placed a bounty on his head. At the time of his death, Kyle was facing a lawsuit from former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who alleges the former SEAL made up a portion of his book in which he claims to have punched Ventura in 2006 for making unpatriotic remarks at a bar, reports the Associated Press.

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Although admitting his first kills didn’t come easily, Kyle showed little public remorse. “The first time, you're not even sure you can do it,” he told Time in an interview last year. “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.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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