Bonney (There are other stories of his birth but this one is the most reliable). The first recorded killing committed by Billy the Kid was on August 17, 1877. This is also where he got his nickname “Kid”. The story has it that he got in a fight with a blacksmith in a saloon where the blacksmith slapped him and threw his to the floor. Knowing that he was no match for the much bigger and older blacksmith he drew his gun and shot the blacksmith who died the next day.
He was arrested but the escaped and began running from the law, something he did all of his life. Billy the Kid eventually moved to Lincoln County, New Mexico were he began working for J. H. Tunstall. Tunstall was a rich farmland owner who had an ongoing feud with L.
G. Murphy and J. J. Dolan over farmland and grazing rights. Billy the Kid looked at Tunstall as a father and would do anything for him.
But on February 18, 1878, Tunstall was gunned down by a group of deputies who were under the authority of Sheriff William Brady who was a major Murphy and Dolan supporter. Billy the Kid swore revenge and said he would not rest until the Murphy and Dolan group was dead. Billy had ended up killing most of the group but was still looking for Sheriff Brady. On April 1, 1878 Billy got his wish. Billy and a group of five friends positioned themselves behind an adobe wall and waited for Brady and his posse to come into town.
When they finally did Billy and his band of outlaws opened fire from their ambush and killed Brady and his posse. Even though Billy used great strategy to gain the upper hand on Brady he was regarded as a coward for the ambush and lost the support of the people who had supported him. While the Lincoln County War went on between Billys gang and the new sheriff George Peppin, Lew Wallace the new governor had charged Billy with murder. When Billy heard of this he told Wallace that he would turn states evidence on three killers if he received a full pardon.
Wallace agreed and met with Billy on March 17, 1879. When they finally met Wallace was “shocked to see a slender boy with only a faint stubble of beard, who was the most feared gunman in the West”. Even though he agreed to testify he didnt want to surrender so Wallace granted a fake arrest. Billy testified and with that it brought great fame. He reveled in this fame and couldnt get enough of it. After the trial Billy agreed to be put on a mock trial for murder but Wallace guaranteed his release.
Even though he was assured a pardon Billy decided to escape. That is when Wallace put a $500 price on his head and when one of his good friends Pat Garrett became a sheriff and was sent to look for him. Billy the Kids death is probably the greatest debated aspect of his life. On July 14, 1881 while Billy was visiting a Mexican woman at the Maxwell ranch Pat Garrett found him in the large ranch house.
In Garretts report he stated that “Billy came into the bedroom armed with a pistol and a knife expressly to kill me if he could. I had no alternative but to kill him or suffer death at his hands”. It is reported that Billy had been shot in the back while others report that Garrett had shot him right in the heart. Either way the brief career of this outlaw ended in a very short time.