A visit to Pat Garrett’s death site


In the desert east of Organ Mountain High School lies a road, once known as Mail-Scott Road, where Pat Garrett was killed on Feb. 29, 1908, by Wayne Brazel. In that lonely place under a creosote bush is a plaque describing the incident and the date.

The place was first marked in 1908, the same year as Garrett died, by two brothers, William and Emmett Isaacks who, having a ranch near the site, had heard shots and investigated. They found the body of Garrett where it had been left by Brazel and Carl Adamson, who had ridden to Las Cruces to report the shooting. Later they marked the place with a stone carved with a cross.

Visiting last week, Aug. 2, from Tennessee and Kentucky, Garrett’s grandson, Scott Davis, and great-great-grandson, Owen Davis, 12, went to the site to pay their respects. The Friends of Pat Garrett historian group escorted them there. While at the site, historian David Thomas led a reading of the preliminary hearing of Brazel, which brought the 1908 event to life in the imaginations of the listeners.

Garrett is known worldwide for killing Billy the Kid in 1881 and was formerly sheriff of Doña Ana and Lincoln counties. Concrete was added to the stone marker in 1965 to make sure it wasn’t moved, and the Friends of Pat Garrett group installed a plaque in 2021.

A wooden New Mexico Official Scenic Historic Marker referencing the general area of the killing can be found at 4500 Bataan Memorial  Bataan Memorial East near Jornada Road.

Brazel was acquitted of the killing during a short trial a year later. There had been some disagreement between the three men at the spot regarding the selling of Garrett’s goats and ranch. Garrett was known for his temper and Brazel claimed he shot Garrett in self-defense. To this day, there are suspicions of conspiracy theories and murder plans, none of which have been substantiated.

Thomas has researched the life of Pat Garrett extensively and penned a book based on that research. “Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman – Murder or Self-Defense?” can be found at local bookstores as well as online.