Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott declared Feb. 2 to be "Chris Kyle Day" in Texas and this year has declared it to be "Texas Military Heroes Day."
Three years ago today, Feb. 2, 2013, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were brutally murdered by Eddie Ray Routh on the shooting range of Rough Creek Lodge.
Prior to departing his house in Midlothian and just after the morning's slate of soccer games, Kyle and his wife, Taya briefly embraced, kissed and said their “I love you's.” Taya was in a bit of a rush, as she was taking their two children and a friend of their daughter's to a Build-a-Bear workshop. Her daughter had previously received a gift card.
This was the last time Kyle's family saw him alive.
Kyle and Littlefield picked up Routh at approximately 1 p.m. from his mother's house in Lancaster on Feb. 2, 2013. Just 30 minutes prior, Routh and his uncle, James Watson smoked pot and drank a little whiskey.
After stopping at a Whataburger along the way, Kyle sent a text to Littlefield at 2:30 p.m. that stated, "This dude is straight up nuts." To which Littlefield responded at 2:32 p.m. with, "Sitting behind me, watch my 6."
The three arrived at Rough Creek and checked in at approximately 3:15 p.m., which means Kyle's truck drove down US Hwy 67 in Glen Rose at approximately 2:55-3:05 p.m.
Court, death and autopsy records then reflect that at approximately 4:30 p.m., just after Kyle finished a round of target practice on the long-gun range he designed, Routh shot the decorated sniper six times – five shots in the back and side, and once in the side of the head – with a .45-caliber long pistol.
Routh then turned on Littlefield and unloaded seven shots from a 9mm Sig Sauer p226 MK5, but not in succession.
During the trial held last February – and as a part of a demonstration not easily seen unless sitting inside one of the pews of the Erath County Courthouse Annex – a ballistics expert laid a full-size dummy on the ground directly in front of Routh and his council.
The expert then inserted several stakes into the wounds as found on Littlefield in order to show the angles in which the bullets entered his body.
Five of those stakes showed Routh pulled the trigger from directly behind and, then as he turned, in front of Littlefield. Following the four shots to the back and then one through a, presumed to be, outstretched hand, Routh walked around to Littlefield’s left side and pulled the trigger to the Sig Sauer two more times – once to the face and once more to the back of the head.
“Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang...bang, bang,” as Jane Starnes, assistant attorney general, emphasized by counting out the shots on her fingers during the closing arguments.
Routh then reloaded the Navy-issued handgun and drove Kyle’s Ford F-250 out of Rough Creek Lodge and back down US Hwy 67 towards his uncle’s apartment in Alvarado.
To honor the Kyle and Littlefield families, and out of respect for all military veterans on what is now known as "Texas Military Heroes Day," there should be a moment of silence and road lined with flags annually on Feb. 2 at 3 p.m.
Of course, this is just the opinion of a local reporter and I should have put this out sooner, but I had not yet realized the impact last February's trial left on me. Details, photos, and testimonies - they are all just as fresh now as ever.
Unfortunately, it usually takes great tragedies to shape us. But, it is even more unfortunate when they are forgotten.