A 25-year-old U.S. veteran of the Iraq war has been charged with murdering a former Navy SEAL described as the most prolific sniper in American military history.
The suspect, Eddie Ray Routh, was detained after he allegedly shot dead sniper Chris Kyle and another man February 2 at a shooting range in Texas.
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. military has confirmed that Routh, a corporal in the Marine Corps, was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and to Haiti in 2010.
Police said Routh has so far not indicated any motive for the killings.
Kyle, 38, served in Iraq and wrote a 2012 bestseller called "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History."
Kyle is known for killing more than 150 people as a sniper.
Kyle said Iraqi insurgents nicknamed him "The Devil," and put a $20,000 bounty on his head.
Reports have described Routh, the shooting suspect, as apparently suffering from mental problems related to his military service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. He was described as unemployed.
Kyle was known for his work aimed at helping U.S. veterans overcome mental and physical problems stemming from their service.
Police said the two killed men and the suspect had apparently gone together to the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range, about 80 kilometers southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.
Routh was arrested at his home in the town of Lancaster, and police said a semi-automatic handgun, believed to have been used in the shootings, was found at the scene.
Police said it was unclear whether Routh was taking any medication or had been formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kyle, who was married and had two children, served in the U.S. Navy from 1999 to 2009 and was deployed in Iraq four times, including with elite SEAL forces, according to military records.
Kyle, who grew up in Texas, was honored with a range of U.S. military awards and decorations for his performance on the battlefield.
In media interviews, Kyle said he had no regrets about the people he killed, and said he did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders related to his military service. He described his work as “honorable.”
Kyle was involved in a nonprofit organization devoted to caring for wounded U.S. veterans. He also created a security training company in which people could pay to learn shooting techniques and other skills.
The incident has occurred amid heightened concerns in the U.S. over gun violence, and worries about the mental health of veterans who have served in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
President Barack Obama has pledged efforts to control the proliferation of firearms in the wake of the December 14 massacre in Connecticut in which 20 school children and seven adults were slain by a gunman.
The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department reported last week that about 22 veterans of America’s conflicts committed suicide each day in 2010.
Based on reporting from AP and Reuters