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Man charged with shooting top US Navy sniper at gun range

Ex-soldier suspected of the murder of the Navy Seal, author of American Sniper, and another man

A man has been charged with the murder of a former sniper and US Navy Seal who was shot dead at point-blank range in Texas.

Chris Kyle, who documented his career overseas in his best-selling autobiographical book American Sniper and became notorious for notching up the highest number of killings by a sniper in US military history, was one of two men shot dead at a gun range in Erath County on Saturday.

Another ex-soldier, identified as 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, was charged with two counts of murder today. The suspect was said by local media to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). No reason for the shootings has been revealed.

Authorities responded to the shooting at around 5:30pm local time on Saturday. According to the official account, Mr Routh opened fire on Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield at around 3:30pm before fleeing in a Ford pick-up truck.

He was later apprehended at his home in Lancaster, around 17 miles south-east of Dallas.

Mr Kyle undertook four tours of duty and won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery during his career. While on duty between 1999 and 2009, he killed 160 insurgents, prompting Iraqi insurgents to nickname him “the Devil” and reportedly place a $20,000 bounty on his head.

In an interview with the BBC last year, Mr Kyle said he didn’t feel any remorse for his actions.

“It is a weird feeling. Seeing an actual dead body ... knowing that you’re the one that caused it now to no longer move,” he admitted.

He added: “Every person I killed I strongly believe that they were bad. When I do go face God there is going to be lots of things I will have to account for but killing any of those people is not one of them.”

After retiring from the Navy, he founded Craft International, which provided training to military and law enforcement clients, and helped found Fitco Cares, a foundation set up to provide help for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Two weeks ago, in an interview with the Guns.com website, Mr Kyle spoke against the push for greater firearms control in the wake of the Newtown school massacre in December.

“When people aren’t afraid because they know everyone – the populace – is unarmed, what’s going to deter them from attacking someone, robbing or committing a crime?” he said.

Mr Kyle is listed as the co-author of American Gun, A History of the US in Ten Firearms, which is due to be released in May.

In it, Mr Kyle recounts his experiences of firing guns from various stages in US history, “making the sweeping argument that the American story has been tied to and shaped by the gun”, according to the Amazon.com description.