america’s top 5 most famous gunfights

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The gunfighter is an icon of the Wild West. The very word “œgunfight”conjures images of dusty streets and narrowed eyes unblinking beneath wide-brimmed hats. We picture romantic, dashing cowboys dueling with cold-hearted, ruthless outlaws; we picture posses and brigands dramatically fighting it out with nothing but six-guns and Winchester rifles. In truth, though, must gunfights of the Old West were over in a matter of seconds ““ and were anything but romantic; tragic and bloody are a couple of words better suited to the phenomenon. And despite their association with the era, gunfights hardly ceased with the “œtaming”of the Wild West.

5 Boston’s Finest

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In some of the finest police work seen in years, a mere three days elapsed between the time when twin bombs ripped through crowds gathered for the Boston Marathon and the moment at which both perpetrators were neutralized. Boston Police officers shot and wounded the elder of the two Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan, in a shootout/car chase in the early morning of April 19th. Dzohkar, the younger suspect, was taken alive less than 24 hours later, too weak from gunshot wounds to put up a fight.

4 Rambo IRL

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Christopher Dorner led police on one of the most captivating, terrifying manhunts in recent history. He was such a frightening foe because thanks to his experience in both the military and on the police force, Dorner knew all the tricks of the trade his pursuers would use against him. He was on the run for a week in February of 2013, a week during which he murdered four people, stole multiple cars, made it across the Mexican border and back, hid out in snowy mountains and then holed up in a cabin where a final gun battle took place. Dorner eventually took his own life.

3 A Family Affair

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Before August, 1992, the name Ruby Ridge sounded like it belonged to an airport steakhouse. After a ten-day standoff in that month, the name would forever be associated with a standoff between federal agents and a family of doomsday prep survivalists led by patriarch Randy Weaver. Throughout the late “˜80s and early “˜90s, the Feds hit Weaver with a series of ever more damning charges, ranging from failure to report to trial to illegal weapons sales. Finally, in late August, with U.S. Marshals closing in around the Weaver cabin to arrest Randy Weaver, a gunfight broke out, with Weaver’s 14-year-old son allegedly firing the first shots. The boy was killed within minutes; Vicki Weaver, Randy’s wife, would be killed days later. One federal agent also died in the days-long gunfight, which would ultimately be declared a total debacle on the part of the government.

2 An Urban Warzone

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In late February, 1997, North Hollywood saw one of the fiercest gunfights in American history. On one side of the battle were dozens of LAPD officers. On the other side were two men, Larry Phillips and Emil Matasareanu. The two perpetrators had just robbed a bank, one of several in a string of heists, and were exiting the building when they encountered police resistance. The problem was that the police had pistols, while the robbers were armed with high-powered machine guns and protective body armor. The police were totally outgunned. After nearly an hour of fighting, both perps were dead, but more than a dozen police and civilians were wounded in the shootout.

1 The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

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America’s most famous gunfight took place in late October of 1881, in the aptly named town of Tombstone. The town’s name is appropriate because in less than a minute of shooting, three men were killed and three more shot. This seconds-long fight is famous thanks only to “œmedia”hype in the form of largely fictionalized books and movies: It had little effect on anyone beyond those outlaws and lawmen directly involved, and was hardly known to the public until 50 years after the shooting. The most famous participant, Wyatt Earp, was the only lawman not to be either wounded or killed in the brief encounter.

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