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Published:February 5th, 2013 07:56 EST
Why Did Eddie Ray Routh Shoot War Hero Chris Kyle to Death at a Gun Range Rough Creek Lodge?

Why Did Eddie Ray Routh Shoot War Hero Chris Kyle to Death at a Gun Range Rough Creek Lodge?

By John G. Kays

`Dark Irony` is the best adage I can come up with to describe the shooting death of Iraqi-an War-Hero Chris Kyle (and Chad Littlefield) by another veteran Eddie Ray Routh, at an isolated gun range, Rough Creek Lodge. This dark irony is the first feeling I had as the tragic story bombarded the internet and airways late Saturday!

This sensation, ineffable as it is, persevered on every level as I thoroughly examined the best news coverage I could get my hands on. As a metaphor, it`s something like a yin yang contradiction; black is white, day is night, even, violence is non-violence (that makes no sense whatsoever)!

I didn`t know about Chris Kyle`s book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, but was a little surprised to learn that all these experiences of Kyle`s as Navy SEAL sniper could be made public, thinking the military would just as soon let this information remain exclusive, in their private files.

We`re glad to learn now what Chris Kyle did for his country, but still we wonder whether this may have put him back in harms way. Well, it`s unclear what effect it (the publishing of his book) did have; another one of those aforementioned dark ironies (the contours of which are at best, even foggier, the more they are examined).

News coverage on this real American tragedy couldn`t have been any better. Specifically, I`ll cite three pieces for excellence in telling us what happened (or the most we could learn) from this shooting range incident out in the country, 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

I`ll recommend you read The New York Times piece, Untouchable in Iraq, Ex-Sniper Dies in a Shooting Back Home (by Manny Fernandez and Michael Schwirtz), a Los Angeles Times article, American Sniper Chris Kyle shot dead in a post-combat world (by Matt Pearce and Molly Hennessy-Fiske), and finally, a Dallas Morning News blog (by Melissa Repko) that gives you real time updates from when Eddie Ray Routh was first arrested.

We`re hearing lots of startling details, such as Routh had to be tasered when in the Erath County jail, or that Routh had to be taken to a mental facility twice before, fairly recently. Perhaps the cause of his problem was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); this has been hinted at in many news stories, and may be the reason why Routh was meeting with Kyle on Saturday. 

 Oddly enough, Kyle supposedly believed discharging firearms was cathartic for war veterans who have seen a lot of action, and may be reliving these vexing war traumas in their minds, many times over.

While this makes little sense to we citizens, who are on the outside looking into a world we only understand from TV footage, it actually does make sense to many veterans, such as Rorke Denver, a SEAL team commander who`s based in San Diego. 

Denver has been widely quoted in the press as defending Kyle`s methodology of treatment (possibly for PTSD) as sound, since shooting a fire arm is cathartic for the veteran. They are use to carrying guns all the time, and supposedly this calms them down and puts them back in a familiar setting. How it achieves this exactly is unclear (to me, at least)?

But what came over Eddie Routh on Saturday afternoon? Did Chris Kyle say something to set him off? Will we ever know what occurred, or what his motive truly was? Was it rational or was it completely irrational? If it was irrational, we have to question the sanity of Routh having a semi-automatic handgun in his hand right in the instance when he was having a bad flashback reliving Iraq, don`t we? 

As far as Kyle`s unusual therapy goes, one wonders whether discharging a powerful firearm is not going to unleash some furies of memory by way of combat experiences. It seems like that is exactly what it would do; then again, maybe I don`t understand this rationale. I do know one thing however; PTSD is real, and must be studied further after this tragedy. The Dark Ironies are real also!