American outlaw Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

Billy the Kid was born Henry McCarty and spent his early life in New York. By 1873 he had moved west to New Mexico as a result of his mother remarrying after the death of his father, but within a year she died and the 15 year old McCarty moved into a boarding house where he was soon caught stealing food.

Within four years McCarty, who by now had adopted the name William H. Bonney, had moved to Lincoln County in New Mexico. He began working for John Tunstall, a rancher involved in a struggle for power in the county. After Tunstall was shot and killed by Sheriff William Brady’s posse in what became known as the Lincoln County War, Bonney committed revenge killings including that of the Sheriff.

Bonney was charged with murder but managed to evade capture and soon became the most wanted outlaw in the West. Almost a year later he agreed to provide a statement against the numerous people involved in the ongoing Lincoln County War in return for his own freedom. Despite providing his testimony as promised, he was placed in a jail from which he later escaped and became an outlaw once again.

By the end of 1880, New Mexico Governor Lew Wallis had posted a bounty of $500 on Bonney, and the search was taken up by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Garrett’s posse captured Bonney and his gang on 23 December. Bonney was sentenced to death for the murder of Sheriff Brady but escaped jail two weeks before his scheduled execution. A number of months later Garrett mounted another posse and found Bonney at the Maxwell Ranch in Fort Sumner where he killed him, since the bounty permitted his capture alive or dead.

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