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Update: Tombstone actor shot when live rounds fired during gunfight

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Update: Tombstone actor shot when live rounds fired during gunfight

  • Mock gunfighters from the Tucson Vigilantes in a photo posted in September on the group's Facebook page.
    Mock gunfighters from the Tucson Vigilantes in a photo posted in September on the group's Facebook page.
  • Tom Carter
    tombstonevigilantes.comTom Carter
  • Ken Curtis
    tombstonevigilantes.comKen Curtis

A member of a group of Old West re-enactors was wounded Sunday afternoon when another actor fired a bullet from a pistol that held live rounds. Ken Curtis of the Tombstone Vigilantes was shot, a woman was struck by another bullet, and other bullet fragments hit nearby buildings, authorities said.

Curtis and a woman identified as Debbie Mitchell were shot when another actor, Tom Carter, fired his revolver during a street skit involving a gunfight in the 400 block of Allen Street in Tombstone, said Bob Randall, the city marshal.

Randall is treating the incident as an aggravated assault "based on the recklessness and serious injury involved." No arrests have been made and a report will be forwarded to the Cochise County Attorney's Office for review, he said.

Curtis was listed in good condition on Monday morning after undergoing surgery, a Banner-University Medical Center spokeswoman said. The bullet was removed and he "will be released to his wife so he can recuperate at home," Randall said Monday morning.

"Curtis fell to the ground after being struck by a live round" around 1:45 p.m., Randall said in a news release Sunday.

"The Vigilantes immediately stopped the show and Tom (Carter) was relieved of his weapon. During inspection of his weapon, it was discovered that there was one live round in the cylinder with five expended casings indicating the gun had held six live rounds prior to the skit," Randall said.

"At least two of the live rounds struck businesses located at the East end of Allen Street, approximately 680 feet from the skit, with one bullet striking a woman standing in front of the Bird Cage Theater," he said.

Other bullet fragments struck nearby buildings, he said.

The reenactment was part of Helldorado Days, an annual Old West celebration held in Tombstone since 1929.

Curtis was flown to the Tucson hospital were he was undergoing surgery to remove the bullet, Randall said. Mitchell "sustained a minor laceration to her neck as the result of a richochet or shrapnel but refused medical attention and went about her day," he said.

Mayor Dusty Escapule "took immediate action and advised the Tombstone Vigilante group to cease any further gunfight skits until it can be determined all weapons are safely loaded with blank ammunition as required," he said.

Randall said the "incident is an isolated event."

"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 on Allen Street," he said.

The shooting incident came just eight days before Tombstone was set to mark the anniversary of the notorious 30-second gunfight a the O.K. Corral. The Oct. 26, 1881, conflict was the result of a long-simmering feud between cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Tombstone's lawmen: Marshal Virgil Earp, assistant Marshal Morgan Earp, and deputy marshals Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

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