As a sheriff and lawman, Morgan Earp is perhaps best known for his involvement in the notorious Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Sadly he was ambushed and gun down several months later by the Cochise County Cowboys in retaliation. As a sheriff and lawman, Morgan Earp served as Tombstone, Arizona's Special Policeman when he helped his brothers Virgil and Wyatt, as well as Doc Holliday, confront the outlaw Cochise County Cowboys in the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881. All three Earp brothers had been the target of repeated death threats made by the Cowboys who were upset by the Earps' interference in their illegal activities. The lawmen killed Cowboys Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton. All four lawmen were charged with murder by Billy's older brother, Ike Clanton, who had run from the gunfight. During a month-long preliminary hearing, Judge Wells Spicer exonerated the men, concluding they had been performing their duty.
Friends of the slain outlaws retaliated, and on December 29, Cowboys ambushed Virgil, leaving him maimed. Two and a half months later, on March 18, 1882, they ambushed Morgan, shooting him at night through the window of a door at Campbell & Hatch Billiard Parlor while he was playing billiards and killed him. The Cowboys suspected in both shootings were let off on technicalities or lack of evidence. Wyatt Earp felt he could not rely on the criminal justice system and decided to take matters into his own hands. He concluded the only way to get justice for his murdered brother was to avenge his death. Wyatt assembled a posse that included their brother Warren Earp and set out on a vendetta to kill those they felt were responsible.