Rare minutes of rest at the ranch
He was taken to Lincoln, accompanied by heavy security. Lawyers feared that someone would try to save Billy, but there was no one to save him – all his close friends had been killed by then. Now he could only rely on himself. Among his guards were people who had fought on the side of Dolan in the past: Bill Matthews, Bob Olinger and John Kinney, deservedly nicknamed the “king of cattle stealers.” Along the way, they did not miss the slightest opportunity to mock the captive.
Since Lincoln did not have its own prison, Billy was chained up on the second floor of the courthouse . There were no bars on windows or doors, but Pat Garrett and his two assistants, Bob Olinger and James Bell, vigilantly guarded. For greater reliability, Billy was additionally chained to an iron ring driven into the floor in the center of the room.
If Bella loved everything in the city, then Olinger did not cause any positive emotions in anyone. One of the Lincoln residents later recalled that “even after he was killed, I never heard anyone say anything good about him.” Billy and Olinger had old scores – in August 1879, the current deputy sheriff calmly killed John Jones, who was Billy’s longtime friend. And now Olinger, feeling complete power over his enemy, constantly let out various sorts of taunts against him, trying in every possible way to humiliate him.
On that day, April 28th, Garrett went away on business, and Olinger went to have a bite to eat at a restaurant located right across the street from the courthouse. Bell was left alone to guard the prisoner. Billy asked to take him to the toilet, which was on the street, after which they both returned again to the second floor. There are two versions of further developments. According to the first, one of Billy’s friends hid a revolver for him in the toilet. But this version does not seem logical, if only because then he had no reason to go up to the second floor again. And the version about the hidden revolver has no evidence. According to the second version, Billy managed to free his hand from the handcuffs, hit them on the head with them and snatched the revolver from his holster. Later, Bell actually found two abrasions on his head. Billy suggested he give up, but Bell ran down the stairs. Billy then said that “he did not want to kill Bell, but was forced to do this in order to save his life.”
Hearing the shots, Olinger jumped out into the street. At first he thought that Bell had killed the captive, but then he heard a familiar voice that came from the second floor of the courthouse:
– Look up, old man. – The captive was holding a double-barreled shotgun. “See what I have for you?” – Billy shot at once from two barrels, killing Olinger on the spot. He will tell his friend John Meadows a few days later: “In life, I didn’t feel as wonderful as when I pulled the trigger and saw Olinger fall to the ground.”
Noticing Gottfried’s old acquaintance Gauss in the crowd, Billy asked him to give him a small pickaxe and ride his horse. Knocking down the shackles, he went to the balcony and explained to the assembled townspeople that he did not want to kill Bell. One of the witnesses later claimed that Billy was in no hurry to leave the city and spent about an hour after the killing of the sheriff’s assistants. The escape of Billy Kid from Lincoln is covered in legends and is considered one of the most successful in the Wild West, but we must not forget that the townspeople had the strength to stop the impudent captive. Pat Garrett was cunning when he tried to claim that they were “paralyzed from fear.” Not! The townspeople knew that Billy was a victim of circumstances, and felt sympathy for him. After all, he became the only participant in the “War in the County of Lincoln”, sentenced to death. And the townspeople knew how many real thugs were acquitted and did not suffer any punishment for the atrocities they had committed.
And again, Billy Kid took refuge … in Fort Sumner! There were his friends, there were Mexican girls in love with him. Friends advised him to immediately flee to Mexico, but he did not listen to them. Billy hoped he would know in advance if he would be in danger. It was not difficult for Pat Garrett to find him there on July 14, 1881.
At night, Garrett hid in the bedroom of Pete Maxwell, the elder brother of Billy Paulita’s girlfriend, and his two assistants remained on the street. Kid knew nothing about them and had a great time dancing with girls and chatting with friends. Hungry, he took a knife and went to the Maxwell house to cut off some meat. Passing by the two sheriff’s assistants, Billy did not recognize them in the dark, and they did not recognize him as a wanted criminal, mistaking him for a local resident.