Lead sheriff in Chris Kyle murder investigation found dead inside Erath County home
Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant was reportedly found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his home overnight, according to local officials.
The death occurred about 12:05 a.m. Tuesday at Bryant’s house in Stephenville, according to a Texas Rangers statement sent by Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel.
The Texas Rangers are investigating his death at the request of the Stephenville Police Department. Haschel said the statement did not include Bryant’s cause of death.
Bryant’s death is less than one week after reports surfaced that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement was investigating him for allegedly cheating on his continuing education training, yourstephenvilletx.com reports. He served as sheriff for nearly 20 years in Erath County, which is about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Bryant was one of the lead investigators in the double murder of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a gun range in February 2013.
Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine corporal, was found guilty of capital murder in the slayings two years later. Kyle and his best friend, Littlefield, had taken Routh to the range to help him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement reprimanded Bryant in March for not completing a 40-hour continued education training course. The training is required by the Legislature to keep law enforcement officials up to date on changes to laws, yourstephenvilletx.com reported last week.
Bryant told the news site he didn’t even realize he hadn’t finished the training until he returned from a Sheriff’s Association of Texas conference over the summer. He said the next thing he knew, former sheriff’s Deputy Cameron Ray had taken the course for him to get him caught up.
Sgt. Stan Roper told yourstephenvilletx.com that they’d spoken as part of the investigation into the sheriff’s office, but Bryant disputed that.
“I don’t know of any investigation against me and I don’t know why there would be one,” Bryant told yourstephenvilletx.com. “I have done nothing wrong.”
Tim Turnbeaugh, a columnist for the Stephenville news site, said in a Facebook post that people should try to remember the good things about Bryant.
“Let’s really lift his family up in prayer and love and offer them words of encouragement because it’s gonna be a tough holiday for them,” he wrote. “Due to all this, there’s gonna be an empty chair at dinner and a few unopened presents, so no matter what you thought of him, let’s try and refrain from any negative comments about Mr. Bryant.”
Bryant is survived by his wife, Donnie, and son Thom Allen, yourstephenville.com reports.