Family says gun range murder suspect suffered from PTSD

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 10:43 PM

MIDLOTHIAN — Family members of the man suspected of killing former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield spoke publicly for the first time Monday.

Eddie Routh, a former Marine, grew up in Midlothian, which was also home to the two murder victims.

Routh's attorney told News 8 that the mental health of his client will certainly be an issue as the case moves forward.

Routh remains in the Erath County Jail under suicide watch. He is being restrained after struggling with his guards.

"He became aggressive, and they believed that he was about to assault them, so they Tased him," said Sheriff Tommy Bryant.

A picture is now emerging of a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder long before being accused of killing two men at an Erath County gun range on Saturday.

"It is PTSD, definitely that's what caused it," said Routh's aunt, Sundae Hughes. "That's not Eddie; that's not who he is. That may be what's happened to him now, but that's not who he is."

Court records show Routh threatened to kill family members at their Lancaster home last September. Crying, he later told officers he suffered from PTSD, was hurting, and that his family doesn't understand what he's been through.

It's far from the Eddie Routh family members recall when he was growing up. As a teen, he played football.

Ten days after graduating from Midlothian High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. A photo in his senior yearbook shows him with a recruiter. He is quoted as saying he wanted to enlist because "I want to be one of the few and the proud."

He served for four years, but his family said Routh's time in Iraq troubled him. His mother hoped a day at the gun range with Kyle and Littlefield last Saturday would serve as a kind of therapy.

Instead, it has created more misery.

"Nobody's doing anything to prepare them to come back over here, and to deal with everyday life," Hughes said.

Routh's attorney said his client was being treated at the VA Hospital in Dallas as recently as a month ago. He added that Routh remains on medication and at the moment is only interested in seeing his family.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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