Wyatt Earp fired the most important shot…during the gunfight at the OK Corral. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday enjoyed the name recognition, but the most dangerous man on the streets of Tombstone that day was Frank McLaury. McLaury was known throughout the Arizona territory as a dangerous gunman; but, he was also a notorious cattle thief. On October 26, 1881, his brand of criminality threatened the Earp clan’s plans to exploit the saloons of Tombstone.
At the pivotal moment… when Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury reached for their Colt revolvers, Wyatt Earp described his move, ”Billy Clanton leveled his pistol at me, but I did not aim at him. I knew that Frank McLaury had the reputation of being a good shot and a dangerous man, and I aimed at Frank McLaury.” Earp hit McLaury squarely in the stomach, badly wounding him. Billy Clanton began firing wildly drawing the attention of the other Earp gunman, but Frank McLaury continued firing as he tried to exit the Corral to Fremont Street.
- His first shot hit Virgil Earp in the right calf
- As he reached the mouth of the lot, his second shot, across his body, hit Morgan Earp in the shoulder
- During the final confrontation with Doc Holliday in the middle of Fremont Street, his last shot hit Holliday in the hip, knocking him down
- Wyatt Earp’s duster had two bullet holes in the right sleeve, possibly from McLaury’s gun
Frank McLaury likely hit every member of the Earp party… during the gunfight….with a bullet in his stomach. Wyatt Earp’s first shot likely saved all their lives that day. Had he missed, McLaury might have killed them all.