Tuesday marks the 139th anniversary of Billy the Kid’s death

New Mexico

FORT SUMNER, N.M. (KRQE) – He’s one of New Mexico’s most infamous outlaws and it was on this day, 139-years ago, Billy the Kid was shot and killed. Tuesday, his legend lives on long after his death. “He’s part of this town’s history and he’s part of New Mexico history,” says Tim Sweet. In Fort Sumner, it’s an important day for people like Sweet, the owner of the Billy the Kid Museum.

“Pat Garrett came into Fort Sumner late one night and he was looking for Billy The Kid,” says Sweet. On July 14, 1881, Billy the Kid was just 21-years-old when he was shot and killed by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett.

View Timeline of Billy the Kid »

At the time, Sheriff Garrett was also a special deputy for the United States Marshal. “Running rampant throughout the wild wild west that we hear about. Pat Garrett took on the role of a Special Deputy United States Marshal and was responsible for suppressing all the violent activity Billy the Kid was involved in,” says Sonya Chavez with the U.S. Marshals.

Historians say unlike other old west outlaws, Billy the Kid didn’t make his living as a bandit. The young gun-slinger never once held up a bank or even a train, but he was involved in quite a few murders.

Whether you know him by the name Henry McCarty, William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid, Sweet says his life and death need to be remembered. “I think he would laugh at what’s been done to commemorate his life. I think he would get a kick out of it,” he says. Typically on the anniversary of his death, Billy the Kid Museum holds a small celebration. However, because of the coronavirus, that is not happening this year.

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