The Chiricahua Apache raiding party was led by Victorio during his 1879–1880 guerrilla action. The party first attacked a silver mine near the present day town of Cooney in the Mogollon Mountains on April 28, 1880. At the mine camp they killed three. They then caught up to a fleeing party of three—which included Sergeant Cooney—and killed them all. Following the initial attack, the Apaches went on to kill 35 (mainly sheepherders and their families) in the area. Victorio and his men left the region when U.S. Army troops from Fort Bayard arrived.
There have been two memorials erected to commemorate the events. Sergeant Cooney's brother and others dynamited out a rock tomb where they buried him. In April 1980, Dave Foreman and Earth First! erected a monument in the Gila Wilderness to honor Victorio's defense of the mountains, crediting the memorial to the non-existent "New Mexico Patriotic Heritage Society."