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ElDorado's Legend Of Marshal Tucker
The Tucker-Parnell Feud
Apparently, the constable at first intended to play the role of peacemaker. He came down the east fence of the courthouse and passed Jim Parnell. A witness remembered Dearing saying,"For God's sake, let's stop this row, Jim."
Dearing then approached his friend, Walter and raised his hand in a conciliatory gesture."For God's sake, stop this boys," Dearing said. "Don't have any trouble."
Dearings words seemed to reduce the tension. "Tucker, I am going to leave this with you," Tom Parnell said. He and Walter turned from the fence and took a few steps.
Then a voice- no one knew whose- called out,"Cowards!" Walter and Tom immediately swung back around." I don't want you to think I'm a damn coward cause I'm walking off from you," Tom Parnell told the marshal. Tucker reponded," I believe you are. I believe you all are a cowardly set of S.O.B.'s."
At that, Jim Parnell, who had remained in his postion at the fence, pulled his pistol. Tucker had turned slightly toward Jim and aimed his at him. Which of them fired first was never clear, for their shots were virtualy simultaneous. Tom and Walter pulled out pistols and fired over the fence at Tucker.
Constable Dearing found himself in a difficult spot. Gunfire had broken out all around him, with his ally Marshal Tucker the target of the three Parnells, two of whom had Dearing flanked. Nevertheless, Dearing produced his pistol and took a shot at Tom Parnell , wounding him.
In the words of witnesses, the shooting now" became general." One witness later compared the gunshots to a string of firecrackers going off. Tucker advanced from within the courtyard into the street, shooting as he walked. Walter had just seen his old friend Harrison Dearing wound his brother. Walter and the constable were within a arm's length, each trying to turn his weapon on the other. As they grappled in the dirt street, their guns fired. Walter dropped, killed instantly by one of the constables shots. Dearing, fatally wounded in the exchange, collapsed on top of him. Dearing gasped for breath, but by the time bystanders reached him, he too was dead.
When the gunfight began, Tucker and Dearing had been outnumbered three to two by the Parnells. But the help that rushed to the scene pushed the odds in Tuckers favor. From a upstairs courthouse window, Tuckers brother, Clarence, a doctor from a small community outside of Eldorado, watched the drame unfold. As he realized its seriousness, Clarence raced downstairs and outside. He arrived just as his brother moved into the street.
Clarence Tucker dashed out and leaped into the brawl that now involved Marshal Tucker, Tom and Jim Parnell. Mat Parnell had been tending store when the shots drew his attention. Fully aware of the potential trouble because of the previous days and hours events, he ran out onto the square in his shirtsleeves. Seeing Walter and dearing lying in a heap, he went to Tom's aid. As he did, Clarence produced a knife and slashed at Mat's exposed back, wounding him severly and sending him back to the store in a bloodied retreat.
Two other Tucker partisans joined the fray. An Eldorado doctor named R.A.Hilton had just stepped out of his office when the gunfire broke out. He rushed into the melee. When Jim Parnell used his pistol to club him over the head, Hilton left to get a weapon. He would not return before the incident ended.
Frank Newton, a restaurant owner, also emerged and charged onto the street. Newton came armed and fired his gun, hitting Tom Parnell. Marshal Tucker's pistol either had been emtied or had misfired. He produced another, this one smaller than his Colt, and fired again at Tom. Tom, already hit twice and with one of his brothers dead on the ground, turned to make his way back across the street. A final bullet, fired either by Newton or Tucker, struck him in the back. Tom staggered a few more steps and fell dead on the sidewalk in front of the dry goods store.
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