Tombstone Daily Epitaph, October 1881
Investigation into the Cause of the Recent KillingFollowing is a verbatim copy of the testimony given before the Coroner's Jury in relation to the shooting of the McLowry brothers and the Clantons, up to the time of adjournment, last evening. At the rate of progress made yesterday, the investigation is liable to last for a week.
The Coroner's Jury was composed of the following: T.P. Hudson, D. Calisher, M. Garrett, S.B. Comstock, J.C. Davis, Thomas Moses, C.D. Reppy, F. Hafford, George H. Haskell, M. S. Goodrich.
The Testimony"John H. Behan, being sworn says; I am Sheriff, and reside in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona; I know the defendants Wyatt Earp and John H. Holliday; I know Virgil and Morgan Earp; I knew Thomas McLaury, Frank McLaury, and William Clanton; I was in Tombstone on 26 October, when a difficulty, or shooting affray, took place between the parties named. The first I knew that there was likely to be any trouble, I was sitting in a chair getting shaved in a barber shop; it was about half past one or two, it may have been later, but not much; saw a crowd gathering on the corner of Fourth and Allen Streets; someone in the shop said there was liable to be trouble between the Clantons and the Earps; there was considerable said about it in the shop and I asked the barber to hurry up and get through, as I intended to go out and disarm and arrest the parties; after I had finished in the barber shop I crossed over to Hafford's Corner; saw Marshal Earp standing there and asked what was the excitement; Marshal Earp is Virgil Earp; he said there were a lot of sonss of bitches in town looking for a fight; he did not mention any names; I said to Earp, you had better disarm the crowd; he said he would not, he would give them a chance to make the fight. I said to him: It is your duty as a Peace Officer to disarm them rather than encourage the fight; I don't remember what reply he gave me, but I said I was going down to disarm the boys.
"I meant any parties connected with the cowboys who had arms; Marshal Earp, at that time, was standing in Hafford's door; several people were around him; I don't know who; Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were then standing out near the middle of the street, at or near the intersection of Allen and Fourth Streets; I saw none other of the defendants there; Virgil Earp had a shotgun; with the muzzle touching the door-sill, down at his side; I did not see arms on the others at the time; I then went down Fourth Street to the corner of Fremont, and there met Frank McLaury holding a horse and talking to somebody; I greeted him; I said to him... (defendants here objected to any conversation between witness and Frank McLaury, court overruled the objection at this time) I told McLaury that I would have to disarm him, as there was likely to be trouble in town and I propose to disarm everybody in town that had arms. He said he would not give up his arms as he did not intend to have trouble; I told him that he would have to give up his pistol, all the same; I may have said gun, as gun and pistol are synonymous terms; about that time I saw Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury down the street below Fly's Photography Gallery; I said to Frank, 'Come with me;' we went down to where Ike Clanton and Tom were standing; I said to the boys: 'You must give up your arms!' Billy Clanton and Will Claiborne; I said to them: 'Boys you have got to give up your arms.' Frank McLaury demurred; I don't know exact language; he did not seem inclined, at first, to give up his arms. Ike told me he did not have any arms.
"I put my arm around his waist to see if he was armed, and found he was not; Tom McLaury showed me by pulling his coat open, that he was not armed, I saw five standing there and asked them how many there were of them; they said four of us; this young man, Claiborne said he was not one of the party; he wanted them to leave town; I said boys you must go up to the Sheriff's office and take off your arms and stay there until I get back; I told them I was going to disarm the other party; at that time I saw the Earps and Holliday coming down the sidewalk, on the south side of Fremont Street; they were a little below the post office; Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were the ones; I said to the Clantons, wait there for awhile, I see them coming down, I will go and stop them; I walked up the street twenty-two or twenty-three steps and met them at Bauer's Butcher Shop, under the awning in front, and told them not to go any farther, that I was down there for the purpose of arresting and disarming the McLaury's and the Clantons; they did not heed me and I threw up my hands and said: go back, I'm the Sheriff of this county and am not going to allow any trouble if I can help it; they brushed past me and I turned and went with them, or followed them two steps or so in the rear as they went down the street, expostulating with them all the time; when they arrived within a very few feet of the Clantons and the McLaurys I heard one of them say, I think it was Wyatt Earp: "You sons of bitches, you have been looking for a fight and now you can have it,' about that time I heard a voice say 'Throw up your hands;' during this time I saw a nickel-plated pistol pointed at one of the Clanton party, I think Billy, My impression at the time was that Doc Holliday had a nickel-plated pistol; I will not say for certain that Holliday had it; these pistols I speak of were in the hands of the Earp party; when the order was given, 'Throw up your hands,' I heard Billy Clanton say: 'Don't shoot me, I don't want to fight,' Tom McLaury at the same time threw open his coat and said, 'I have nothing,' or 'I am not armed;' he made the same remark and the same gesture that he made to me when he first told me he was not armed; I can't tell the position of Billy Clanton's hands at the time he said, ' I don't want to fight,' my attention was directed just at that moment to the nickel-plated pistol; the nickel-plated pistol was the first to fire, and another followed instantly; these two shots were not from the same pistol, they were too nearly instantaneous to be fired from the same pistol; the nickel-plated pistol was fired by the second man from the right; the second shot came from the third man from the right. The fight became general.
"Two of the three fired shots were very rapid after the first shop; by whom I do not know; the first two shots fired by the Earp party; I could not say by whom; the next three shots I thought at the time came from the Earp party; this was my impression at the time from being on the ground and seeing them; after the party said, 'Throw up your hands;' the nickel-plated pistol went off immediately; I think V.W. Earp said, 'Throw up your hands;' there was a good deal of fighting and shouting going on. I saw Frank McLaury staggering on the street with one hand on his belly and his pistol in his right; I saw him shoot at Morgan Earp, and from the direction of his pistol should judge that the shot went in the ground; he shot twice there in towards Fly's Building at Morgan Earp, and he started across the street; heard a couple of shots from that direction; did not see him after he got about half way across the street; then heard a couple of shots from his direction; looked and saw McLaury running and a shot was fired and he fell on his head; heard Morgan say, 'I got him;' there might have been a couple of shots afterwards; but that was about the end of the fight; I can't say I knew the effect of the first two shots; the only parties I saw fall were Morgan Earp and Frank McLaury. My impression was that the nickel-plated pistol was pointed at Billy Clanton; 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; this shortly after the first five shots; I never saw any arms in the hands of any of the McLaury party except Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton; I saw Frank McLaury on the sidewalk, within a very few feet of the inside line of the street; did not see a pistol in the hands of any of the McLaury party until eight or ten shots had been fired; Frank was the first of the party in whose hands I saw a pistol; Ike Clanton broke and ran after the first few shots were fired; Ike, I think, went through Fly's; the last I saw of him he was running through the back of Fly's towards Allen Street."
At the conclusion of the above testimony the court adjourned until 9 o'clock the following morning.