The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight is a famous event that occurred in El Paso, Texas, in 1881. The incident took place after a group of heavily armed Mexicans moved into the city looking for two missing vaqueros. After an inquest into the deaths of the vaqueros, tension arose among some Americans, who were concerned that the Mexicans, with a combination of anger, restlessness, and being heavily armed, would become violent while demanding justice for their two murdered comrades.
The situation defused when two American cattle rustlers were charged with the murders and immediately arrested. However, a confrontation took place afterward between George Campbell and Constable Krempkau, which led to Krempkau being shot. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, who had only started as town marshal on April 14, was nearby and heard the shot. He immediately pulled out his pistols and ran out into the street.
While running, Stoudenmire fired wildly, killing an innocent Mexican bystander named Ochoa, who was running for cover. Stoudenmire then shot and killed John Hale, who had reportedly grabbed one of Campbell’s two pistols and yelled, “George, I’ve got you covered!” before shooting Krempkau. Campbell, who was heavily injured, stepped from cover with his pistol drawn, saw Hale lying dead, and yelled to Stoudenmire that this was not his fight.
However, Constable Krempkau, mistakenly believing that Campbell had shot him, then fired his pistol twice at Campbell before losing consciousness from loss of blood. Krempkau’s first bullet struck Campbell’s gun and broke his right wrist, while the second hit him in the foot. Stoudenmire whirled away from Hale and instantly fired at Campbell, who dropped his gun again, grabbed his stomach and collapsed onto the ground. Stoudenmire walked slowly toward Campbell and glared at him. In agony, Campbell yelled, “You big son of a bitch! You murdered me!” Stoudenmire said nothing. Both Campbell and Krempkau died within minutes.