On February 2nd, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, took a former Marine veteran allegedly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to a shooting range. For many veterans, the shooting sports are a catharsis which allows them to separate themselves from their wartime experiences.
What was intended as an effort to aid a fellow veteran turned deadly when Eddie Ray Routh, 25, is alleged to have unexpectedly shot both of his would be mentors in the back and escaped in Kyle's stolen Ford F250 pickup truck.
What was the motive?
The rumor circulating within the close-knit SEAL community is that the motive was anger over exposing Routh as a fraud.
According to the as yet unconfirmed rumor, Eddie Routh is alleged to have exaggerated his service in the Marines to claim hazardous service among the ranks of the elite Scout Snipers.
While all Marines are trained as riflemen only a select few complete the intensive training to qualify as Scout Snipers. Marines only receive the designation as a Scout Sniper after successfully completing the rigorous training of a U.S.M.C. Scout Sniper School. The Scout Sniper Training Course is currently 12 weeks long and is considered to be one of the most difficult schools in the military with an attrition rate of 60 percent or higher which is exceptional given that the criteria for admission is in itself very high.
The elite Scout Snipers specialized training allows them to provide close reconnaissance and surveillance to the infantry battalion. A Scout Sniper is highly skilled in field craft and ong range marksmanship to enable them to deliver long range precision fire on carefully selected targets from concealed positions.
As elite warriors, Scout Snipers, have a unique and somewhat whimsical community subculture, even within the unique subculture of the Marines itself. A qualified Scout Sniper is known as a Hog. The term "hog" is actually an acronym derived from the title "Hunter Of Gunmen", which is the colloquial name for a trained sniper. All other members of scout sniper platoon who have not graduated from Scout/Sniper school are considered "pigs", or "Professionally Instructed Gunmen".
While all Marines are considered elite soldiers, Scout Snipers could be considered the elite of the elite. Falsely claiming status as a Scout Sniper would be regarded as an act of "stolen valor" by falsely claiming service with an elite unit or as a highly trained expert.
If the rumor is true, it may well provide the motive behind the seemingly senseless double murder of two men who were attempting to help a fellow veteran reputed to have been struggling with PTSD.
If Eddie Ray Routh was exaggerating his military service record to claim service as an elite Scout Sniper, this may have been part of the reason why Chris Kyle stepped up to assist a struggling fellow veteran. As a decorated sniper himself, Kyle would have understood the pressures a fellow sniper would have been exposed to. It may also provide the reason Routh snapped and turned his gun on his fellow veterans.
On a gun range, a fake would be apparent and he would likely have quickly been exposed as lacking the unique skills and knowledge expected of an experienced sniper.
Did Chris Kyle see though his false claims?
If Eddie Routh was exaggerating his military experiences and he was already mentally unstable, he may well have begun to believe his own lies and being exposed may have "burst his bubble". Faced with exposure, did Eddie Ray Routh strike out against Kyle and Littlefield?
Was that the reason he shot his companions in the back?
It is important to note that is article is merely reporting the rumor circulating within the SEAL community and is not being reported as fact at this time. The investigation into the double murder is ongoing.
The Erath County Sheriff Department was contacted for a comment but have thus far failed to respond.