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Alleged killer of retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had been in mental hospital

  • The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at 6:48 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, at 5:47 a.m.

A Lancaster man accused of fatally shooting retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend at a gun range Saturday had previously threatened to kill himself and others and had twice been taken to a psychiatric hospital for mental health evaluations, according to documents obtained Monday by the Star-Telegram.

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, remained in the Erath County Jail in Stephenville on Monday facing two charges of capital murder with bail set at $3 million. Authorities said Routh is on suicide watch and that Sunday night, jailers had to use a stun gun to subdue him when he became combative.

Routh is accused of shooting and killing Kyle, the U.S. military's most lethal sniper and author of the best-selling book American Sniper, and his friend Chad Littlefield at a gun range Saturday at Rough Creek Lodge west of Glen Rose, about 77 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh to the gun range in an attempt to help the veteran deal with problems he was having related to post traumatic stress disorder.

Mental health issues were also cited in police reports involving Routh.

On Jan. 19, Dallas police responded to a "major disturbance call" in the 7600 block of Churchill Way involving Routh and a 33-year-old woman.

The woman told police that she was trying to get Routh help and she feared for Routh's safety. Routh was taken to Green Oaks Psychiatric Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

On Sept. 2, 2012, Lancaster police officers responded to the report of a "major disturbance" in the 200 block of West Sixth Street, where Routh was threatening to kill himself and family. He had left the scene and Lancaster police found Routh walking nearby. He smelled of alcohol and "Eddie was emotional and crying," according to the report.

Police also noted that Routh -- who told police he was a Marine and suffering from PTSD -- was not wearing shoes or a shirt.

Routh told police that, "he was hurting and that his family does not understand what he has been through."

Jodie Routh, his mother, told Lancaster police that her son had been drinking and became upset when Routh's father stated that he was going to sell his gun.

Routh argued with his father, saying he was going to "blow his brains."

The Iraq veteran was taken to Green Oaks for a mental evaluation.

Jodi Leigh Routh had reached out to Kyle to ask him to help her son, said Clint Burgess, a Tarrant County constable and Kyle's friend.

But it is not clear how much she told Kyle about her son's condition.

Since 2002, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has treated more than 200,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for PTSD.

'He barely knew him'

Co-directors of the Soul Repair Center at TCU's Brite Divinity School said Monday that taking Routh to a gun range was a "risk." The program, which opened last year, was established to understand, research and treat "moral injuries" suffered by veterans.

"It wasn't the best he could have done for him [Routh]," said Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock, one of the co-directors. "No therapist would have imposed such a therapy. He [Kyle] barely knew him."

Retired Army chaplain Herman Keizer Jr., co-director of the Soul Repair Center, agreed.

"He [Kyle] may have thought a battle buddy may have worked in the past," Keizer said. "But who knows if Routh still had the military values that Kyle had."

Kyle had taken other veterans to ranches to shoot in the past.

In his book, American Sniper, Kyle wrote, "The first time I had some of them out to one of the ranches, I took them out on the back porch before we started shooting and gave them a little orientation. What wounded veterans don't need is sympathy. They need to be treated like the men they are: equals, heroes, and people who still have tremendous value for society."

Keizer and Brock said they had never talked with Kyle or Routh.

At the shooting site Saturday, an employee found Kyle and Littlefield and attempted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on them, according to a felony warrant posted on WFAA.com's website. Several weapons, including semiautomatic rifles, semiautomatic handguns and revolvers, were found near the bodies.

After the shooting Saturday, Routh drove away from the range in Kyle's truck and arrived at his sister and brother-in-law's home in Midlothian and told them that he had killed two people, authorities said.

When questioned about the truck, Routh told his relatives that he had "traded his soul for a new truck," according to the warrant. Routh told his relatives that he wanted to go to Oklahoma to avoid Texas authorities, the warrant stated.

He then drove to his Lancaster home. At that location, authorities conversed with him, but he managed to get into a vehicle and led them on a pursuit before his vehicle was disabled and he was arrested.

Routh joined the Marines in 2006 and rose to the rank of corporal in 2010. His military specialty was small-arms technician, commonly known as an armorer. He had been stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and served in Iraq from 2007-08 and in the Haiti disaster relief mission in 2010.

Kyle, co-author of the bestselling memoir American Sniper, had the most confirmed sniper kills in U.S. military history, over 150, which he racked up during four tours in Iraq. After 10 years in the service, Kyle returned to Midlothian, where he lived in the Twin Creek development with his wife, Taya, and their two children. He helped create Craft International, a Dallas training and security company.

This report contains information from the Associated Press.

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