February 5, 2013

Veteran who killed 'American Sniper' had been in mental hospital

The suspect in the deaths of the ‘Sniper’ author and a friend is on suicide watch in a Texas jail.

The Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Iraq War veteran charged with killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend on a Texas shooting range had been taken to a mental hospital twice in the past five months and told authorities he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, police records show.

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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.

AP

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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. Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant says Routh, 25, was shocked with a stun gun and restrained in his jail cell Sunday night after becoming aggressive. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, also told his sister and brother-in-law after the shootings that he "traded his soul for a new truck," according to an Erath County arrest warrant affidavit obtained by WFAA-TV.

Police said Routh was driving the truck of victim and ex-SEAL Chris Kyle at the time of his arrest.

Routh is charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper," and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range Saturday in Glen Rose.

He is on suicide watch in the Erath County Jail, where he's being held on $3 million bond, Sheriff Tommy Bryant said.

Routh, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, was first taken to a mental hospital on Sept. 2 after he threatened to kill his family and himself, according to police records in Lancaster, where Routh lives. Authorities found Routh walking nearby with no shirt and no shoes and smelling of alcohol.

Routh told authorities he was a Marine veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Eddie stated he was hurting and that his family does not understand what he has been through," the report said.

Routh's 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."

Police took Routh to Green Oaks Hospital for psychiatric care.

Dallas police records show Routh was taken back to the same mental hospital in mid-January after a woman called police and said she feared for Routh's safety.

Green Oaks will not release patient information, citing privacy laws. Most people brought by police to the hospital are required to stay at least 48 hours.

In May, Routh's mother reported a burglary that included nine pill bottles and her son was involved, according to a Lancaster police report. No other details were available.

Authorities say Routh, Kyle and Littlefield arrived at the sprawling Rough Creek Lodge at about 3:15 p.m. Saturday, and a hunting guide called 911 about two hours later after discovering the bodies.

Kyle and Littlefield were shot multiple times, and numerous guns were at the scene, according to the affidavit.

Routh drove to his sister's house, and told her he killed two people and that he planned to drive to Oklahoma to evade Texas authorities, the affidavit said.

Routh's sister then called police, and he was arrested after a short police pursuit in Lancaster.

Jailers used a stun gun on Routh on Sunday night after he appeared ready to assault them when they entered his cell after he refused to return his food tray, the sheriff said. Then they put Routh in a chair that restrains his arms and legs in his solitary confinement cell, Bryant said.

Bryant said Routh has an attorney but hasn't met with him at the jail in Stephenville, about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Routh's mother and sister were unsuccessful Monday.

Sundae Hughes, an aunt of Routh's, said she watched him grow up but hasn't seen him since his high school graduation in 2006. Hughes was in disbelief that her nephew could be involved in such an incident.

(Continued on page 2)

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