Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
This undated file photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. Routh had been taken to a mental hospital twice in recent months and told authorities he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to police records, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)
In this April 6, 2012, photo, former Navy SEAL and author of the book "American Sniper", Chris Kyle poses in Midlothian, Texas. A Texas sheriff has told local newspapers that Kyle has been fatally shot along with another man on a gun range on Saturday.
Kyle and a friend, Chad Littlefield, had taken Eddie Ray Routh to the gun range Saturday. Routh, a 25-year-old Marine veteran, was accused of fatally shooting both men and remained jailed Tuesday on murder charges.
Police records suggest Routh was struggling with mental illness, though it's not clear whether Kyle and Littlefield knew of those issues.
Routh was taken to a psychiatric hospital twice in recent months, including on Sept. 2 after he threatened to kill his family and himself, according to police records in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster. Authorities found Routh walking around with no shirt and no shoes, and smelling of alcohol.
Routh told authorities he was suffering from PTSD. His mother told police her son had been drinking and became upset when his father said he was going to sell his gun. She said Routh began arguing with them and said he was going to "blow his brains out."
"Eddie stated he was hurting and that his family does not understand what he has been through," the police report said.
Gunfire can have unpredictable consequences for someone struggling with the aftermath of war, said Dr. Harry Croft, a San Antonio psychiatrist who has worked with veterans suffering from PTSD.
"The smell of the gunpowder, the flash from the gun, the sight, the sound," Croft said. "All of that can trigger a response ... that the person's not aware of."
Croft said he considered gun therapy a "bad idea in the main," although he acknowledged that target shooting could be a welcome diversion for some people. He also pointed to the high rate of veteran suicides — estimated at about 22 a day.
"I believe that until treatment occurs, being around guns is probably not a good idea," Croft said.
Rieckhoff said he was worried about veterans' illnesses being painted with a broad brush after Kyle's death, adding that more research and more programs to treat veterans were necessary. Guns might be a part of that discussion, he added, but were neither a panacea nor a huge danger.
"We're not going to just start handing out guns to everybody and say, 'Hey, this is going to help you with PTSD,' any more than we would hand out dogs or medication," Rieckhoff said.