Charlie Storms

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Charlie Storms (1820/21?-1881) was a professional gunfighter and gambler of the Old West, who is best known for having been killed in a gunfight with Luke Short in Tombstone, Arizona.

Gambler and gunfighter[edit]

Storms had a reputation as being a good gunman during the 1870s, and traveled to many towns throughout the Old West as a gambler. When Wild Bill Hickok was murdered by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota, Storms was alleged to have been present. Some alleged that he took one of Hickok's pistols as it lay on the floor, as a souvenir. That has never been confirmed beyond a doubt, but there are indications that he was there.[1] It is alleged he came to California in 1849[2]

He drifted for some time, travelling through Dodge City, Kansas and El Paso, Texas, during which time he was known to have been involved in at least three shooting incidents, though with no notable gunmen. The outcome and details of those gunfights are not known, and mostly were just rumor.

In 1881 he arrived in Tombstone. He made himself known in several gambling houses and saloons around town.[1]

Fatal argument[edit]

On February 25, 1881, Storms had been drinking all night and made several rude remarks to Faro dealer Luke Short in the Oriental Saloon. Storms had successfully defended himself several times with his pistol. He had inaccurately sized Short up as someone he could "slap in the face without expecting a return." Bat Masterson knew both men and was able to initially defuse a confrontation between the two men.

Storms went to his room but then returned, and as Masterson and Short left the Oriental Saloon, Storms yanked Short off the sidewalk. Storms pulled his cut-off Colt .45 pistol, but Short was quicker and shot Storms in the chest twice from within 6 feet (1.8 m), setting his shirt on fire.[3] Short is reported[who?] to have turned to Bat Masterson and stated, "You sure pick some of the damnedest friends, Bat".[1]

Tombstone physician George E. Goodfellow was only a few feet from Storms when he was killed. "In the spring of 1881 I was a few feet distant from a couple of individuals [Luke Short and Charlie Storms] who were quarreling. They began shooting. The first shot took effect, as was afterward ascertained, in the left breast of one of them, who, after being shot, and while staggering back some 12 feet, cocked and fired his pistol twice, his second shot going into the air, for by that time he was on his back."[4]

Examining Storms afterward, Goodfellow found that he had been shot in the heart, but was surprised to see "not a drop of blood" exiting the wound. He discovered that the bullet had ripped through the man's clothes and into a folded silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. He extracted the intact bullet from the wound with the silk wrapped around it.[5]

Short was arrested for the shooting. During the preliminary hearing the shooting was ruled self defense and Short was released.[5] Storms was survived by a widow[2]


  1. ^ a b c Charlie Storms
  2. ^ a b Arizona Weekly Citizen February 27, 1881
  3. ^ Erwin, Richard E. (1993). The Truth about Wyatt Earp (2nd ed.). Carpinteria, CA: O.K. Press. ISBN 9780963393029. 
  4. ^ Packer, James. "It Don’t Hurt Much, Ma’am". American Heritage. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  5. ^ a b Edwards, Josh (May 2, 1980). "George Goodfellow's Medical Treatment of Stomach Wounds Became Legendary". The Prescott Courier. pp. 3–5.