STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- An Iraq War veteran charged with murdering former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a friend turned a gun on the pair while they were at a Texas shooting range, authorities said Sunday.
Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster, Texas, was arraigned early Sunday in the deaths of Mr. Kyle, who wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper," and Chad Littlefield, 35. They were killed at a shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Travis Cox, the director of a nonprofit Mr. Kyle helped found, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Mr. Kyle, 38, and Mr. Littlefield had taken Mr. Routh to the range to try to help him. Mr. Littlefield was Mr. Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy," Mr. Cox said.
"What I know is Chris and a gentleman -- great guy, I knew him well, Chad Littlefield -- took a veteran out shooting who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him, try to, you know, give him a helping hand, and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them," Mr. Cox said.
Capt. Jason Upshaw with the Erath County Sheriff's Office said Mr. Routh had not made any comments that might indicate a motive.
Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Mr. Routh was unemployed and "may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself."
Sheriff Bryant didn't know whether Mr. Routh was on any medication or had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr. Routh was being held on one charge of capital murder and two charges of murder.
Capt. Upshaw said Mr. Routh used a semi-automatic handgun, which authorities later found at his home. Capt. Upshaw said ballistics tests weren't complete Sunday, but authorities believe it was the gun used in the shootings. He declined to give any more details about the gun.
The U.S. military confirmed Sunday that Mr. Routh, 25, was a corporal in the Marines, serving in active duty from 2006 to 2010. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Haiti in 2010. His current duty status is listed as reserve.
Mr. Routh is being held on $3 million bond.
A knock on the door at Mr. Routh's last known address went unanswered Sunday. A for-sale sign was in front of the small, wood-framed home.
Mr. Kyle's best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," detailed his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009. Mr. Kyle said in his book that Iraqi insurgents had put a bounty on his head. According to promotional information from book publisher William Morrow, Mr. Kyle deployed to Iraq four times.
Sheriff Bryant said Mr. Kyle, Mr. Littlefield and Mr. Routh went to the shooting range around 3:15 p.m. Saturday. A hunting guide at Rough Creek Lodge came across the bodies of Mr. Kyle and Mr. Littlefield around 5 p.m. and called 911.
Capt. Upshaw said autopsies were still pending and he could not say how many times the men were shot or where they were hit.
After the shootings, Mr. Routh left the shooting range in Mr. Kyle's pickup truck, Sheriff Bryant said, first going to his sister's home in Midlothian, about 25 miles southwest of Dallas, where he told her and her husband what he had done. Mr. Routh left, Sheriff Bryant said, and the couple called local police.
Mr. Routh arrived at his home in Lancaster, about 17 miles southeast of Dallas, at about 8 p.m. Police arrested him after a brief pursuit.
Mr. Kyle's nonprofit, FITCO Cares, provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans.
A former Texas ranch hand and bronco buster who called himself the antithesis of the "refined assassin," Mr. Kyle joined the SEALs in 1999 and served four combat deployments before retiring in 2009.
The SEALs specialize in surgical strike forces, and Mr. Kyle's steady nerve, his patience for stalking and his pinpoint marksmanship through his rifle scope earned him two awards of the Silver Star and five awards of the Bronze Star.
His book sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Co-written with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, "American Sniper" rode a crest of interest in behind-the-mystique, preserve-the-mystique SEAL volumes such as "No Easy Day," Matt Bissonnette's pseudonymous account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
With his Texas drawl, hulking physique and tightly reserved public manner, Mr. Kyle drew a degree of celebrity in the past year as he appeared on late-night talk shows and in the NBC competition show "Stars Earn Stripes," which pairs military and law enforcement veterans with actors in drill exercises.
Christopher Scott Kyle was born in 1974 and grew up on a ranch in Odessa, Texas. As a young man, he hunted deer and pheasant with a bolt-action 30-06 rifle and rode bulls and broncs in rodeos.
After studying ranch and range management at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, he returned to ranching before enlisting the Navy with the ambition of joining the SEALs.
Mr. Kyle is survived by his wife, Taya, and their two children.
The Washington Post contributed.