Wyatt Earp - BODIES FALL

When an 1882 fire destroyed much of the Western half of Tombstone, the OK Corral was also extensively damaged (as we can see in this contemporary picture). The prior year, fire also destroyed much of the eastern half of Tombstone. This public-domain image is online via Fern Canyon Press.


Frank McLaury, the best shot of the Cowboys, was hit first. He was mortally wounded. So were his unarmed brother, Tom, and Billy Clanton. Wyatt later drew a picture describing everyone's positions after the shooting and told what happened in the first seconds:

I knew that Frank McLaury had the reputation of being a good shot and a dangerous man, and I aimed at Frank McLaury...My first shot struck Frank McLaury in the belly...If Tom McLaury was unarmed I did not know it.

A witness to the shoot-out, R.J. Coleman, later testified:

...after the first two [shots] Tom McLaury ran down Fremont Street and fell. [Tom was mortally wounded.]

Johnny Behan, the Sheriff, saw the shoot-out. He recalled:

...the first man that I was certain that was hit was Frank McLaury, as I saw him staggering and bewildered and knew he was hit...Ike Clanton broke and ran after the first few shots were fired; Ike, I think, went through Fly's Building; the last I saw of him he was running through the back of Fly's Building towards Allen Street.

Virgil and Morgan Earp were both shot by Billy Clanton. R.J. Coleman saw it happen:

Billy Clanton stood in the same position when I first saw him; saw him fire two or three shots in a crouched position; one of them hit Morgan Earp, who stumbled or fell, he jumped up again and commenced shooting...I think Billy Clanton must have been struck, but was down in a crouching position, and using the pistol across his knee and fired two shots, one of which hit Marshall [Virgil]Earp; Wyatt and Morgan were still firing at him, when he raised himself up and then fell, still holding his pistol in his hand.

Billy died soon after. So did Tom and Frank McLaury.

Doc Holliday was also shot by Frank McLaury. The only armed person who remained unscathed was Wyatt Earp.

When the smoke cleared, Sheriff Behan was on the scene to arrest Wyatt Earp for murder. Witnesses heard Earp tell Behan:

I won't be arrested today. You deceived me Johnny when you said they were not armed.

Three days after the shoot-out, the coroner held an inquest. In the meantime, the Earps moved into the Cosmopolitan Hotel where they would be safer than in their own homes.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jun 06, 2019

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"BODIES FALL" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2001. Feb 25, 2020.
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