Posted: Feb 11, 2013 1:19 PM by Associated Press
Updated: Feb 11, 2013 1:23 PM
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Several thousand people gathered at Cowboys Stadium on Monday before the start of a memorial service for Chris Kyle, the slain former Navy SEAL sniper. Some in the somber crowd carried flower bouquets while waiting to enter the stadium.
Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Phillips said he wasn't surprised by the large turnout. He came from his Fort Worth home to honor "a brother in arms."
Phillips and many others in the crowd never knew the 38-year-old Kyle, who authorities say was killed Feb. 2 at a North Texas shooting range by a former Marine whom Kyle was trying to help.
"I'm here to pay my respects to him, and also for all of those who have fallen while serving this country," said Esperanza Meza, who is in the Texas State Guard.
Before the service, pictures of Kyle with his family and SEALs were shown on a large screen in the stadium. Kyle completed four tours of duty in Iraq and wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper."
His funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday, where he will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin after a 200-mile funeral procession.
Another Iraq War veteran, 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, has been charged in the killings of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. Routh is being held in the Erath County Jail on $3 million bond.
The director of the nonprofit that Kyle set up to give in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans has said that Kyle and Littlefield apparently had been helping Routh work through post-traumatic stress disorder.
The three arrived together in Kyle's truck at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, authorities say. Routh later fled in Kyle's truck and went to his sister's home.
According to a search warrant, Routh told his sister and brother-in-law that the men "were out shooting target practice and he couldn't trust them so he killed them before they could kill him." Routh's sister called the police, describing her brother as "psychotic." Routh was arrested after a short police chase.
Routh's brother-in-law told authorities that Routh had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. One of Routh's attorneys, J. Warren St. John, said his client had been released from the Dallas Veterans Affairs hospital against his family's wishes just two days before the shootings.
Littlefield's funeral was held Friday in Midlothian, where he and Kyle were neighbors. After the funeral, Littlefield's relatives said the men's outing with Routh was intended to be therapeutic.
Littlefield's father-in-law, Tom Montgomery, said Kyle regularly took veterans to the shooting range, and that Littlefield often assisted in efforts to help veterans.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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