Next week is the 134th anniversary of Tombstone, Arizona’s famed moment in Wild West history, the shootout at the O.K. Corral involving Wyatt Earp and other legends of the era. The annual celebration got off to a rocky start, however, when an actor fired a loaded gun during a show.
Oops! Fortunately, nobody was killed, though a fellow performer and a bystander were both injured in Sunday’s accidental shooting. The performers involved in the incident were both from a group called the Tombstone Vigilantes. Customarily, members of the all-volunteer group of Old West enthusiasts—which has been around since 1946—use blanks, but as Tucson CBS affiliate KOLD reported, re-enactor Tom Carter showed up late to the event and his gun wasn’t properly safety-checked:
Authorities inspected the weapon and found one live round in the cylinder along with five casings that indicated the six-shooter was filled with live rounds prior to the skit.
Tombstone authorities called it unprecedented. The [Cochise County] Marshal’s Office says Mayor Dusty Escapule advised the Tombstone Vigilante group to put future gunfight skits on hold as the investigation plays out.
“Tombstone takes pride in the safety and security of its townspeople and tourists alike and the citizens of Tombstone can be assured that stringent safety protocol will be enforced prior to allowing any further gunfight skits,” the Marshal’s Office said in a statement.
It is unclear if Carter was purposefully using a loaded gun, or whether he faces charges.
Despite its colorful history, Tombstone—which serves mostly as a tourist destination these days, and has a population of around 1,300—sees relatively little violence nowadays. In 2014, an argument between two residents led to another shooting in the town’s historic district, blocks from the fabled O.K. Corral, resulting in one fatality. A news item on that murder noted that “the last fatal shooting in Tombstone happened in July, 2013. Prior to that, the town had not seen a homicide in more than a decade.”
A sign marks a street closed in Tombstone, Ariz., Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, where an actor staging a historical gunfight in the Old West town was shot with a live round during a show that was supposed to use blanks. AP Photo by Astrid Galvan.