Chris Kyle Shot Looters, Carjackers, Punched Jesse Ventura – Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the author of “American Sniper,” shot looters in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, shot two carjackers in Texas, and punched Jesse Ventura in the face.
With the blockbuster success of the film American Sniper, the legacy of former NAVY SEAL Chris Kyle has taken on mythic proportions. As is often the case when this happens, some events of Kyle’s life have been embellished and exaggerated in the re-telling of old stories and accounts.
Chris Kyle is the most decorated and revered sniper in American military history and had more than 150 confirmed kills during his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kyle’s heroism and service give reason to celebrate his life, however, the public and media often seek even more from legendary figures like Kyle. The truth often blurs in the telling and retelling of legendary figures’ stories, and Kyle is no different.
Here’s a look at how some of the most common claims about Kyle got started, and whether or not they’re true:
Claims about the historical accuracy of American Sniper – Fiction!
Claims about the accuracy of American Sniper are off base. Clint Eastwood, the film’s director, said it portrays one soldier’s perspective of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — not an objective, historically accurate account. The Star reports:
“Still, in making American Sniper, which he took over after Steven Spielberg bowed out due to budget restrictions, Eastwood felt he had to properly represent Kyle’s version of events.
‘This picture was interesting, because I’m seeing it from the point of a person who was sort of an American hero, as far as his ability to be this ultra-sniper. And his family and his beliefs were very strong about defending the country and defending the guys who are defending the country, as a sort of an oversight warrior. It was an important story, but you have to embrace his philosophy if you’re going to tell a story about him,’ Clint Eastwood said.”
Chris Kyle Killed Looters During Hurricane Katrina – Fiction!
The claim that Chris Kyle killed 30 looters in New Orleans from a perch on top of the Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is false. The rumor started after Chris Kyle reportedly told the story to a private group of Navy SEALS after a moderated discussion with SOFREP, a website that covers special-operations forces.
The New Yorker reports:
“(After the discussion), a larger group went out for dinner, closed the hotel bar, and hung out in Kyle’s suite, drinking until late. The SEALs began telling stories, and Kyle offered a shocking one. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he said, the law-and-order situation was dire. He and another sniper travelled to New Orleans, set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Three people shared with me varied recollections of that evening: the first said that Kyle claimed to have shot thirty men on his own; according to the second, the story was that Kyle and the other sniper had shot thirty men between them; the third said that she couldn’t recall specific details.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) told the New Yorker that “no West Coast SEALs deployed to Katrina.” One of Chris Kyle’s superiors said he’d never heard the story, and he added that it “defies the imagination” to believe that dozens of people were shot with high-velocity rifles and then disappeared.
Chris Kyle Killed Two Carjackers in Texas – Fiction!
The claim that Chris Kyle killed two carjackers in Texas is false.
The account first appeared in D Magazine in April of 2013:
“Two guys approached him with pistols and demanded his money and the keys to his truck. With his hands in the air, he sized up which man seemed most confident with his gun.
He told the robbers that he just needed to reach back into the truck to get the keys. He turned around and reached under his winter coat instead, into his waistband. With his right hand, he grabbed his Colt 1911. He fired two shots under his left armpit, hitting the first man twice in the chest. Then he turned slightly and fired two more times, hitting the second man twice in the chest. Both men fell dead.
Kyle leaned on his truck and waited for the police.
When they arrived, they detained him while they ran his driver’s license. But instead of his name, address, and date of birth, what came up was a phone number at the Department of Defense. At the other end of the line was someone who explained that the police were in the presence of one of the most skilled fighters in U.S. military history. When they reviewed the surveillance footage,
the officers found the incident had happened just as Kyle had described it. They were very understanding, and they didn’t want to drag a just-home, highly decorated veteran into a messy legal situation.”
D Magazine worked with Chris Kyle on the story, but the writer doesn’t say that Kyle told him the story. In fact, the writer doesn’t say where the account came from. A later article in the New Yorker said Kyle told the story to friends who later retold it to reporters. Either way, the incident likely didn’t happen, the New Yorker reports:
“There is cause to be skeptical. The counties of Erath, Somervell, and Johnson cover the stretch of highway where the incident supposedly happened. Tommy Bryant, the sheriff of Erath County, told me that he could ‘guar-an-damn-tee it didn’t happen here.’ Greg Doyle, the sheriff of Somervell County, said that he had ‘never heard” the story, which he found “kinda shocking,’ and added, ‘It did not occur here.’ Bob Alford, the sheriff of Johnson County, told a local reporter, ‘If something like that happened here I would have heard of it, and I’m sure you all at the newspaper would have heard of it.’
“These denials do not automatically disprove the story, of course. And it’s true that certain operatives, from certain government offices and agencies, drive government-registered vehicles whose license plates prompt civilian authorities to contact a call center in the event of an accident or a traffic stop. But a SEAL with extensive experience in special-mission units told me that the notion of such a provision being in place for a former SEAL driving a private vehicle was ‘bull.’”
Chris Kyle Knocked Out Jesse Venture – Fiction!
This claim is false, and it landed Chris Kyle’s estate in federal court. In his memoir, Kyle told a story about punching an unnamed celebrity called “Scruff Face” because the celebrity allegedly said that the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” during the war. The Washington Post reports:
“Kyle did not identify Ventura by name in the book, but said that he swung at the individual after he ‘started running his mouth about the war and everything and anything he could connect to it.’ That included President George W. Bush and deployed SEALs, who ‘were doing the wrong thing, killing men and women and children and murdering,’ the man said, according to Kyle’s book. Ventura said the whole episode was fabricated.
Kyle later said in media interviews while promoting his book that ‘Scruff Face’ was Ventura, who served in the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams during the Vietnam War era.”
Ventura said the incident didn’t happen and sued Chris Kyle and his estate for defamation. At trial, Ventura’s lawyers successfully argued that the made-up fight had drummed up publicity and interest in Kyle’s book, which led to more book sales. Ventura’s lawyers pointed to a picture of Ventura at the event in question that showed no black eye or bruises, which contradicted Kyle’s account of the alleged fight. Witnesses also testified. A jury in Minnesota sided with Ventura and awarded him $1.8 million in July of 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Most of the proceeds from the “American Sniper” book were not donated to veterans – Truth!
It’s true that the vast majority of royalties generated by the sale of Chris Kyle’s memoirs were not donated to the families of marines in 2013.
After Chris Kyle was killed in early 2013, HarperCollins, the publisher of his book, released a statement that said Kyle had “dedicated his life in recent years to supporting veterans and donated the proceeds of American Sniper to the families of his fallen friends.”
But Chris Kyle’s widow, Taya, testified in court in July of 2014 that although the couple didn’t intend to profit from the book, they had. The Kyles planned to donate much of the book’s $3 million in royalties to veterans and their families, Taya Kyle said, but they couldn’t because of gift tax laws that prevented them from giving more than $13,000 to each family in 2013.
The National Review estimates that $52,000 (or about 2% of American Snipers’ 2013 royalties) had gone to the families of fallen veterans.