Billy The Kid Kills His First Victim – 8/17/1877

US History |

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Billy the Kid was only a teenager when he wounded a blacksmith from Arizona. Though he didn’t die on his initial impact, he passed away the next day. This blacksmith was Billy the Kid’s first victim. 

Nobody really knows how many men Billy the Kid killed, but he claimed that he had killed one man for every year of his life, at nearly 21 people. Historians estimate that the total is more like nine people. There were other Western outlaws that had a far greater body count and a more violent past. John Wesley Hardin for example, killed around 20 men and as many as 40.

William Bonney used the surnames of Antrim and McCarty in addition to his name as Billy the Kid. He was known for his baby face and smooth cheeks. He had blue eyes and a childish heir about him that made it unlikely for anyone who had met him. Billy was known as a decent young man who was pulled into a life of crime due to circumstance rather than choice. His first murder was actually hailed as an accident.

He seems to have fled from his home in the South West, New Mexico to be exact and ended up being jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. Billy became a ranch hand and sheepherder in Arizona. In 1887 he was hired as a teamster at the Camp Grant Army Post where he attracted a lot of attention from a blacksmith named Frank Cahill. Billy was well liked by most people at the camp, but this guy had a different agenda and a vendetta against him.

Cahill went too far when he called Billy a “pimp.” Billy called the blacksmith a string of expletives and then the two started fighting. Billy was startled and panicked. He pulled out his gun and shot the blacksmith. If he were prosecuted, Billy may not have been acquitted so easily by the courts of the West because it was argued that the blacksmith did not pull his gun. You could use this argument to prosecute police officers in wrongful death suits today. 

Billy left Arizona and returned to New Mexico because he feared that he’d be imprisoned. He became involved in the bloody Lincoln County war and met his maker in the form of Pat Garrett’s gun barrel. He was the Sheriff of Lincoln County. Billy the Kid left on July 14th. 

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