The flags around Midlothian are flying at half staff following the weekend murders of two well-known residents, one of whom was the military's deadliest sniper.
Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were gunned down at a shooting range on Saturday in Erath County. Police have charged former Marine Eddie Routh, 25, with the killings.
"It's heavy. Obviously very sad, shocking," Scott Slaydon said about the death of his friend Chris Kyle. Slaydon was dropping off his son at Walnut Grove Middle School Monday, where Littlefield's wife works as the assistant principal.
Slaydon said he told his sixth grade son about the incident.
"Just talking with him saying, 'hey when Mrs. Littlefield comes in, even today –– today is my son's birthday –– but i said, today going into school, just remember that it's going to be sad. Even though it's your birthday, we can celebrate, but also be respectful of those who are going through this hard time."
Slaydon vowed to be a supportive friend as several families endure what happened.
"Just offering a pat on the back or a kind smile will sometimes lift a spirit, so anything that needs to be done as a community we will come together," he said.
Relatives, former Navy SEALs and close friends rushed to offer comfort, including Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn.
"His wife is a spectacular woman who is doing as well as can be expected, and so is his family," Waybourn said. "They're surrounded by a lot of people, and we're just trying to love them through it."
Waybourn's friendship with Kyle was forged in faith. "He was a ministry unto himself," Waybourn said. "He was that guy that if you're a vet and you needed a hand, he was reaching out to you."
It was this "reaching out" that apparently cost Kyle his life. Investigators believe he was trying to help a fellow veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder when Eddie Routh allegedly shot Kyle and Chad Littlefield."
"Reaching out" has become a theme for former Navy SEALs through a program called Carry The Load. It was started by burly former SEAL Clint Bruce, who has been supporting Kyle's family nearly around the clock since the shooting on Saturday afternoon.
Carry the Load, which began in Dallas, is a walking relay from New York to Texas meant to raise awareness of sacrifice and to generate donations for charities that help the families of fallen veterans. That now includes Kyle's family. The 20-hour event takes place on Memorial Day. Proceeds also go to officer and fire department support charities like Friends of Dallas-Fire Rescue, Heroes on the Water and Assist the Officer Foundation.
Bill Waybourn said Kyle carried the load more than anyone knew after writing his best-selling book, "American Sniper."
The paperback edition hit stores last month, but it hadn't cracked the Amazon best-sellers chart. Within hours of Kyle's murder, however, it started to climb. By Sunday night, the paperback took the No. 1 spot and the hard cover edition was No. 3.
"The money he made from that book went directly to the families of the SEAL team members that were lost," the chief said. "He and [his wife] Taya kept not a dime of that, because that's a humble family."