Tom Gaumer
Speculation versus witness testimony
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:07

Was Behan trying to disarm the cowboys?

Testimony of James Kehoe on page 68 of Turner.

"Frank was in debt to our firm (Kehoe was a butcher) and I was standing at the door of our market speaking with Tom and Frank McLaaury. Sheriff Behan came up to the McLaury's and said, "Frank I want you to give up your arms." Frank said, "Johnny, as long as the people of Tombstone act so, I will not give up my arms."

If you take this literally Tom was not asked to disarm. Anybody wonder why?

The Sheriff told him he would take him to the Sheriff's Office to lay off his arms. Frank McLaury said, "You need not take me. I will go." The Sheriff said, "Well come on."
They walked down towards Third Street. They stopped near Mr. Fly's house and a little west of it. I heard someone remark, "Here come the Earp boys!" I looked toward Fourth Street and saw the Mr. Earps and Mr. Holliday coming along Fremont Street from Fourth, toward Third Street. They passed me. I saw Sheriff Behan walking towards them, to meet them, leaving the Clanton party.

So Behan had told Frank to disarm, convinced Frank to go to Behan's office to disarm. [Interestingly Frank seemed to admit Behan could take him to the office if he didn't go voluntarily]

So now along comes Virgil. Virgil has done nothing since Billy and Frank arrived in town and remained armed. Virgil has waited from one half hour to two hours depending on the witness being asked as to when they arrived in town.. Now Virgil must do something right now even though there is nothing happening on the street but talk And Sheriff Behan is on the scene trying to avoid violence with negotiation. This is similar to what many modern police do. Violence is the last choice now with most police most of the time.

It certainly would be in this situation as there is no hurry and nothing happening making a confrontation necessary at all yet.

So Virgil does what he has the legal right to do and brings on a probably unnecessary gunfight. It costs him his job which makes the opinion of the town leaders real clear in their assessment of his work.

I think the town leaders were right about Virgil
He lacked good judgment.
He was impatient when lives were on the line after having waited for maybe too long?
He risked getting innocent towns people shot as bullets flew around the area.
He damaged the towns reputation to new investors and possible immigrants who read the papers or listened to the stories.
He needed better self control.
He failed completely as he did not disarm them but had a shoot out instead, which might be viewed as disarming them by stretching the meaning a bit. LOL?

Sadly Virgil and his family paid a terrible price over the next few months for his bad decisions.

Behan did not fail. He was doing okay and according to witness Kehoe had gotten Frank to agree to disarm.

Witness versus speculation? Go with the witness!

Keep Laughing

  • Sterling post, BenK.t.K., Wed Aug 14 04:30
    Makes all the sense in the world, solidifying my long-standing and total agreement with Woody that Behan took too long. The Cow=boys had little reason to follow any suggestion by Johnny for... more
    • Speculation versus witness testimony — Tom Gaumer, Wed Aug 14 12:07
      • Question...?Jeff Morey, Wed Aug 14 12:32
        Tom, Where does Behan corroborate Kehoe’s testimony? My Best, Jeff Morey
        • He doesn't if memory servesAnonymous, Wed Aug 14 13:18
          Jeff Some people suggest Kehoe was a completely false witness. I was inviting Jeff Morey to make that post. Here is a possible resolution of another matter, courtesy of Garth Gould and not to the... more
          • I didn’t laugh, but I smiled.Jeff Morey, Wed Aug 14 13:59
            Tom, What I’ve never understood is, if Billy Clanton was “an important witness against Doc Holliday”, as some have claimed, why wouldn’t Ike Clanton state that in his testimony? My Best, Jeff Morey
            • Good point. Ike may be a flawed individualTom Gaumer, Wed Aug 14 16:11
              Jeff If the Earp's were involved in the Benson stage murders and knew Billy was a witness and feared him for that reason, why would Billy or his brothers still be alive 7 months later? Why a public... more
              • Exactly!Jeff Morey, Wed Aug 14 17:21
                Tom, If the Earps wanted to eliminate Ike and Billy Clanton, all they had to do is blast them to hell out in the desert. The idea that they wanted a “showdown” is movie foolishness. Who in their... more
                • Yep and that ruins us as movie heroesTom Gaumer, Thu Aug 15 01:40
                  Jeff but we win which is more important in real life. I loved seeing western heroes in the movies and on TV settle important issues by their skill with a gun. Very dramatic. However it gradually... more
    • Re: Sterling post, BenBen Harleman, Wed Aug 14 06:29
      Hey Kenny, thanks for the compliment. I agree, just from a common sense standpoint, that if it takes you that long to get cooperation then "authority" may not be your strong suit. I can't imagine a... more
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