In the aftermath of the O.K. Corral hearing, the cowboy gang were not willing to accept Judge Spicer’s verdict. The Earps were found justified in their actions during the gunfight. There would be no murder trial. After the hearing was over, several Earp associates and also Judge Spicer received letters warning them to leave town. On December 14, 1881, the night stage from Tombstone was attacked and fired upon.
John Clum, Tombstone’s town mayor narrowly escaped the shooting. In a letter to Stuart N. Lake (Wyatt Earp’s biographer) dated January 24, 1929, he described the event as:
“… an attempted cowardly assassination under cover of the night by the Clanton-McLowery clan on December 14, 1881…I was the first intended victim. Two weeks later they made their mid-night attack on Virgil Earp, and about two months later they assassinated Morgan Earp at Mid-night.”
On December 28, 1881, Virgil Earp was attacked in the street and shot several times by hidden gunmen. He was in a critical condition for several months after the shooting and it was thought that he might not survive.
On December 30, 1881, the Weekly Arizona Miner newspaper published the following article:
For some time past, the Earps, Doc. Holliday, Tom Fitch and others who upheld and defended the Earps in their late trial, have received, almost daily, anonymous letters, warning them to leave town or suffer death, supposed to have been written by friend of the Clanton and McLowry boys, three of whom the Earps and Holliday killed, and little attention was paid to them, as they were believed to be idle boasts, but the shooting of Virgil Earp last night shows that the men are in earnest.
Virgil Earp formerly lived in Prescott, and at one time was night-watchman. He left Prescott during the Tombstone excitement, and has since been a resident of that town.