TODAY   |  February 04, 2013

Navy SEAL gunned down at shooting range

Chris Kyle survived several tours of duty in Iraq, becoming the military’s most deadly sniper, only to be shot and killed at a Glen Rose, Tex., shooting range over the weekend along with friend Chad Littlefield. Police have arrested a suspect, Eddie Lee Routh, a former Marine. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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>> texas, search for the motive of a u.s. navy s.e.a.l. another iraq war veteran is charged in that case. lester holt has the latest on the investigation. lester, good morning.

>> willie, good morning. i get to meet and spend time with chris kyle last year for the release of his autobiography. he was the most lethal sniper in u.s. history . he and a friend were gunned down at a shooting range in glenrose, texas . a sad twist of fate for a man who became a hero on the battlefield. america's deadliest military sniper who, over four it tours in iraq, made over 160 confirmed kills, a number chris kyle told me a year ago was not the one he focused on.

>> every person i killed, i have a clear conscience of. they were actively trying to harm americans, military or civilians.

>> reporter: he and his friend, chad littlefield, were shot to death. the alleged killer, eddie ray ralph , former marine, arrived at the range with the victims. after killing them with a semi automatic handgun at close range, he drove to his sister's house and confess ed to the murders before returning home.

>> he was apprehended without any scuffle or fight. and then early this morning, he was arraigned and brought to our jail here where he is now.

>> the sheriff says his understanding is that ralph may suffer from mental problems related to his military service , but offer nod specifics or possible motive.

>> i don't think anybody knows why. they all went out there together.

>> reporter: much of kyle 's time in iraq was spent providing sniper cover for troops. insurgents nicknamed him the devil of ramadi.

>> it gave me pride, knowing i was doing my job enough to get into the minds of the terrorists and make them fearful of me.

>> reporter: back here in the states he started a company in his native texas and raised his public profile with projects like the nbc reality show "stars earn stripes" which paired celebrities with soldiers to carry out military-style missions.

>> tap, rack, bang.

>> reporter: kyle said he was raised to be patriotic, but also had a strong faith in god. that faith especially saw him through his last combat tour, when he was shot twice, one bullet stopped by his body armor . the other, deflected off his goggles.

>> i had a guardian angel out there and i'm sure he hates me, because i would come home and i would break my toe going up the stairs. but every time i went overseas, he kept me safe.

>> reporter: chris kyle leaves behind a wife and two children. according to officials, eddie ray ralph has been arraigned on two counts of murder.

>> and our thoughts are certainly with his wife and those two kids. lester holt , thank you so much.