February 6, 2013

Killing of a Navy SEAL: The downside of 'gun therapy'

To some veterans, gunfire might trigger an erratic response, which may have happened when Chris Kyle and a friend were shot in Texas.

By NOMAAN MERCHANT/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, seen in a 2012 file photo, survived warfare but not a day on a Texas firing range, where an unstable young ex-Marine allegedly shot him and another man.

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram via The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Eddie Ray Routh, who is accused of fatally shooting a former Navy SEAL and a friend, had long been prone to irrational behavior, according to police records.

Erath County Sheriff's Office via The Associated Press

IN RUN-UP TO SHOOTINGS,
MANY RED FLAGS ABOUT
ROUTH'S WELL-BEING

FORT WORTH, Texas — A 911 recording and documents released Tuesday reveal more about the possible state of mind of the Iraq War veteran charged with gunning down a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend at a Texas shooting range.

Eddie Ray Routh told his sister and brother-in-law that he and the two men "were out shooting target practice and he couldn't trust them so he killed them before they could kill him," according to a Lancaster police search warrant affidavit.

Shortly after the shootings, Routh's sister told a 911 operator that her brother had confessed to killing two people and was "psychotic," according to a recording of the frantic call to police.

Routh, 25, remains jailed in Erath County on $3 million bail and is on suicide watch.

Laura Blevins told police her brother seemed "out of his mind saying people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs. He said he was going to get their souls before they took his," according to the affidavit, obtained by WFAA-TV.

In a 911 call obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Routh's mom, Jodi Routh, told an operator in September that her son "probably needs to go to the VA to the emergency room and they need to admit him to the mental ward." Later, she said one of her son's Marine Corps buddies had taken weapons from the house for safekeeping.

– The Associated Press

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. 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 threatened 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 last year 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 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.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)