This dude is straight up nuts.
A text message from Chris Kyle to Chad Littlefield on the drive to the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, February 2, 2013
Is the apocalypse upon us right now?
Eddie Ray Routh speaking to an arresting officer later the same day.
While Chris Kyle's assessment of the guy he was attempting to help was tragically spot on, given the level of gun violence in these United States, Routh's question seems a bit rhetorical.
In fact, considering the mind numbing statistics, there is only one reason a double homicide trial being conducted two years after the act in Stephenville, TX remains news outside of, say, Ft Worth. It's that one of the two people Brother Routh gunned down was a genuine American hero to huge numbers of people.
Chris Kyle did four tours in Iraq, much, if not all of it, as a sniper. He had, according to him, 160 confirmed kills. He was so efficient at his job the insurgents are reported to have put a bounty on his head and nicknamed him, The Devil of Ramadi. After he retired Kyle wrote a book about his life and service. Hollywood mega mover, Clint Eastwood was so impressed he made a movie about the retired Navy Seal's exploits. It is currently wildly popular among those who enjoy war from afar.
In addition to publishing a biography, Mr. Kyle, much to his credit, created an enterprise known as Fitco Cares. It provided in home fitness equipment to fellow veterans and the families of military personnel who were killed in action.
He and his friend, Chad Littlefield also worked face to face with vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
To say Eddie Routh suffered from PTSD is rather like saying there have been a few snow flurries in Boston this winter. NBC reports he had been taken in for mental evaluations at least two different times after threatening members of his family and himself with violence. According to the story, the former marine who spent one tour in Iraq and another in Haiti, had been released from a Dallas VA medical center, over family objections, just days before the murders.
His parents called Kyle and asked if he could help their son. Kyle agreed and for reasons, known only to him and perhaps Chad Littlefield, they decided to take the, straight up nuts dude, to a gun range so the three of them could pop off some rounds.
Routh, reportedly, spent the morning of the murders smoking a few joints and knocking back shots of whiskey. Kyle picked him up and the two of them met Littlefield at the Rough Creek facility. Depending on the time and witness Routh says he killed the two men because he could either feel people feeding on his soul, or, "...they wouldn't talk to me."
His attorneys are pleading him innocent by reason of insanity. As my kids used to say, "well, duh."
Unfortunately for their client the state of Texas requires they prove he literally didn't know right from wrong. That is going to be tough since Routh took off in Kyle's truck immediately after the shooting, then before he was arrested led police on a ten minute chase prior to surrendering. No, this guy isn't going to be shipped off to some mental institute, he is going to jail for the rest of his life. The deal is so done the jury might arrive at a verdict before they even leave the box.
Eddie Routh shot Chris Kyle five times in the back and side and once in the head. He pumped seven bullets into Chad Littlefield. Both victims had loaded weapons in their waistbands with the safeties on. In other words, despite Routh's history of mental illness and despite handing a known whack job a loaded gun, they both turned their backs on him and assumed he wouldn't go off his nut.
In that terrible instant we were all witness to the most perfect American selfie ever taken. It is one that's more revealing than anything written, or said about the national culture of violence, the NRA, and our deadly gun fetish.
Yes, in the end, The Devil of Ramadi and his friend weren't done in by some wild eyed Arab insurgent, or a roadside IED. They were killed by a fellow American they had just handed a loaded weapon to.
It is a tradition as old as the country itself and it's repeated each and every day. We call it freedom.
Every other industrialized nation in the world maintains it is insanity. As always, their argument is tough to refute.
sic vita est