(CBS News) -- Chris Kyle was the most lethal sniper in U.S. military
history, notching 255 confirmed kills over a 10-year career with the
Navy SEALs. He earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for his
The war hero and best-selling author was shot to death on Saturday.
Not on the battlefield -- but in his home country. He was only 38 years
Kyle survived two shootings and six improvised explosive
device attacks in Iraq. Three years ago, he retired from the military,
started a security training company and also a charity to help returning
soldiers, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder, find
their way. It was while doing just that -- aiding a fellow veteran --
that he lost his life.
Kyle was so deadly accurate in
combat that insurgents in Iraq put a $20,000 bounty on his head and
dubbed him "The Devil of Ramadi." But to fellow SEALs like Rorke Denver,
he was known as "The Legend." Denver told CBS News, "We were aware
early on in that deployment that something special, for lack of a better
term, was unfolding."
Kyle spotted an insurgent aiming a
rocket launcher at an Army convoy in Sadr City in 2008. He shot and
killed him from 21 football fields away.
On Saturday, an
American veteran did what Iraqi militants could not. Kyle was allegedly
killed by an apparently troubled Marine, Eddie Ray Routh, at a shooting
range south of Fort Worth.
Tommy Bryant, Erath County
Sheriff, said, "This shooter is possibly one of those people that he had
taken out to the range, to mentor, to visit with, to help him."
in Texas recovered a semi-automatic rifle from Routh's house they
believe was used in the killings, but have been unable to determine a
motive. He's been arraigned on two counts of capital murder.
Denver said, "While it sounds backwards, I actually think time on the
range and using those skill sets in a controlled and safe environment
could be a huge benefit to veterans."
Ruth allegedly also killed Kyle's friend, Chad Littlefield, and fled the scene in Kyle's black pickup truck before being caught.
Kyle, being a sniper was never about racking up his kill numbers, but
rather, shielding his comrades. Last year, he told CBS Dallas station
KTVT about Ryan Job and Marc Lee -- two fellow SEALs he couldn't protect
Kyle recalled at the time he "just sat down,
put my back up against the wall, curled my knees up to my chest, put my
head in my knees, and started bawling. My only regrets are the guys I
couldn't save. That's what keeps me up at night."
took a toll on his family too, so Kyle gave up the warrior's life in
2009 for the sake of his wife and two young children. Kyle said, "I took
it as an ultimatum, either you get out, or she and my kids were going
to be gone."
Kyle's wife Taya said in the same interview,
"Of course, he looked at that and thought the marriage would be over.
And you know what, he's probably right."
As a civilian,
Kyle appeared in the NBC reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" and wrote the
best-seller "American Sniper." Kyle's highly-anticipated second book
was due to be released in May.
Denver said, "He's one of
those guys who will be in the books. When history writes of these
conflicts, he will be in the conversation as one of the greats."