Family of Victim in Gun Range Death Defends Outing
MIDLOTHIAN, Texas - The man killed alongside a former Navy SEAL sniper at a Texas shooting range was helping his friend work with a troubled war veteran, and the outing was intended to be a "therapeutic situation," his relatives said Friday following his funeral.
Hundreds of people attended the service for Chad Littlefield, who along with his friend, "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle, was fatally shot last weekend. Authorities have said the former Marine they were trying to help suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and turned on the two men.
Littlefield's father-in-law, Tom Montgomery, defended the notion of helping troubled war veterans through target practice. He said Kyle regularly took veterans to the shooting range, and that Littlefield often assisted in efforts to help veterans.
"As a gesture of friendship, that's the only way I can describe it, he was asked to help Chris in this endeavor," Montgomery said. "I think this was a form of relaxation, a form of therapy."
Police say the suspect, 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, shot Littlefield and Kyle multiple times on Feb. 2 before fleeing. He later 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," according to a search warrant. Routh is jailed on $3 million bond.
The men could not have anticipated Routh's actions, Montgomery said, adding that Littlefield enjoyed assisting Kyle with his nonprofit, which provided in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans.
Kyle, 38, established the nonprofit after leaving the Navy in 2009 following four tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the military's most lethal snipers. His wartime account, "American Sniper," was a best-seller.
"I have to believe that Chris Kyle with all his military background and specialized training was quite capable of reading people," Montgomery said.
Hundreds turned out Friday to honor Littlefield at First Baptist Church in Midlothian, near Dallas. Although Littlefield wasn't a member of the military, Patriot Guard Riders led the procession as a tribute to his efforts on behalf of veterans and formed a ring around the parking lot and church entrance. Hundreds of other people lined local streets to watch the procession pass.
Littlefield, who had a 7-year-old daughter with his wife Leanne, was remembered for his bedrock character.
"He was a man of deep commitment and character," the Rev. Kenny Lowman said during the service.
Montgomery said Littlefield and Kyle bonded a few years ago as soccer dads watching their children play, and that their families occasionally vacationed together.
"People develop these ethics over a lifetime," he said. "I think Chad was the type of person who developed them and did what was right, even when no one was looking."
A memorial service for Kyle is planned for Monday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.