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An Iraq war veteran believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has been charged with killing a former Navy SEAL whose exploits in the same conflict were detailed in a best-selling book.
Chris Kyle, who wrote “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” and a second man were shot dead at a firing range in Glen Rose, Texas on Saturday.
Kyle, 38, was credited with more than 150 confirmed kills during a decorated decade-long service career that included four tours in Iraq. Since leaving the SEALs he had helped run a support group for struggling ex-military personnel.
His memoir recounted battle experiences in Iraq in the rebel strongholds of Ramadi and Fallujah, and he wrote how the Al-Qaeda militants whose comrades he had gunned down dubbed him “The Devil,” and that they put a bounty on his head.
The rebels of Iraq never tracked Kyle down but he nevertheless died at the end of a gun in tragic circumstances, on American soil.
Captain Jason Upshaw of the Erath County Sheriff’s Office told reporters on Sunday that Kyle and a friend had taken Eddie Routh, a US Marine who had also served in Iraq, to the shooting range.
Routh, 25, was formally charged on Sunday with two counts of capital murder in connection with the deaths.
“We lost two American heroes,” Upshaw told reporters, noting that the weapon thought to have been used in the incident, a semi-automatic handgun, had been found at Routh‘s home.
Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was believed to be suffering from “some type of mental illness,” or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The suspected shooter’s mother is believed to have contacted the veterans support foundation that Kyle was involved with.
Kyle‘s death had earlier been confirmed by FITCO Cares, the group he helped start which worked with returning soldiers who had PTSD.
“My heart is breaking,” said FITCO’s director, Travis Cox, noting that the former sniper leaves a wife and two children.
“Chris died doing what he filled his heart with passion -- serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD.”
The US military confirmed on Sunday that Routh had seen active service with the Marines in Iraq, but that he was currently listed as a reserve.
The Dallas Morning News wrote that Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor for his military service.
Kyle said in an interview with the daily about one year ago that he was born for the work of a military marksman and at the age of 24 he took that step.
“When I grew up, I only had two dreams. One was to be a cowboy and another was to be in the military. It wasn‘t exactly the SEALs I was looking for at the time. I just wanted to go into the military and be the best.”
The fatal shooting comes amid a raging and bitterly fought debate in the United States over gun control, after several massacres in which publicly available high-powered, military-style weapons have been used.
The issue of gun killings at the hands of people suffering from mental or emotional illness has figured prominently in such arguments, with calls for tighter background checks for gun owners.
In December, a mentally disturbed man killed 20 young children and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in a massacre that shocked the nation.
President Barack Obama has since put gun control on his legislative agenda with plans to ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines at its forefront.
The measures, however, are up against fierce opposition from gun advocates in the United States, most notably the National Rifle Association, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution. (UPI)
<관련 한글 기사>‘전설의 스나이퍼’ 끝내 총 때문에..
외상 후 스트레스 장애에 시달리던 한 미군 해병대 예비역이 ‘전설적 저격수’로 유명한 전직 미군 특수부대원을 살해한 혐의로 기소됐다.
미 해군 특수부대 네이비씰(Navy SEAL) 소속 저격수였던 크리스 카일(38)은 미국 텍사스 주 글렌 로즈 사격장에서 지난 토요일 발생한 총격사건에서 끝내 목숨을 잃었다.
카일은 네 차례의 이라크 전장 파견 기간 동안 150회 이상의 저격임무를 완수해 2개의 은성훈장과 5개의 무공훈장을 받는 등 혁혁한 공적을 세웠다. 그는 전역 후 어려운 처지에 있는 미군 예비역들을 돕기 위한 단체에서 활동해왔다.
현지 보안관 사무소 대장 제이슨 업쇼는 3일 피해자인 카일과 피의자 에디 루스(25)는 친구 사이로 함께 이라크에서 복무했었다고 밝혔다.
루스는 이날 반자동 권총을 이용해 두 명을 사망케 한 혐의로 3일 공식 기소됐다.
보안관 사무소 측은 조사결과 루스가 일종의 정신병인 외상후 스트레스 장애(PTSD)를 앓고 있었다고 밝혔다.
한편 이번 총격 사건은 미국 내에서 군용 총기를 이용한 총기난사 사건이 최근 다수 발생해 총기 소지에 대한 뜨거운 논란이 일고 있는 가운데 발생했다.
특히 정신적으로나 감정적으로 문제가 있는 사람들이 총기를 소지했을 경우를 우려해 더욱 엄격한 총기소지자 관리가 시급하다는 목소리가 미국 내에서 점차 높아지고 있다.
버락 오바마 미국 대통령은 새 임기를 시작하면서 돌격소총과 고용량 탄알집의 일반 판매를 금지하는 내용을 골자로 한 총기소지법 강화 계획을 발표했다.
그러나 이와 같은 계획은 총기소지가 헌법에 규정되어 있다며 강력하게 반대하고 나서는 전미총기협회(NRA) 등 총기소지 옹호자들에 의해 난항을 겪고 있다. (코리아헤럴드)