In 1894, Deputy U.S. Marshal Baz Outlaw stumbled along Utah Street in El Paso, Texas, drunk and belligerent in a voice, some say, loud enough to wake the dead. 


The one-time Texas Ranger vowed revenge for being shortchanged in helping capture several outlaws and cattle rustlers.

Outlaw and other deputies were paid fees based on how much work they contributed in preparing pending legal cases.

However, most of the preparation for this particular period was handled by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bufe Cline. And for this reason, U.S. Marshal Dick Ware decided to pay Cline the fees.

Outlaw, who contributed little to the cases, exploded, flew into a rage, and insisted on getting half the money.

Born in Lee, Georgia, in 1854, Baz (or Bass) Outlaw grew up with a burning desire to become a Texas Ranger but didn’t pursue his dream until he turned thirty, left home, and headed for Texas. 

Various historical accounts indicated Outlaw completed an application at the nearest Ranger station. He was approved and subsequently assigned to Company E. 

Before long, Outlaw gained considerable admiration among his fellow Rangers. Despite an unassuming physical appearance—at 5-foot-9 and about 150 pounds—his gun skills were unequaled.

Pinpoint accurate with a pistol or rifle, Outlaw could also outdraw most others, a skill rare among his peers.

Thanks to a growing reputation as a proficient gunfighter, solid horseman, and capable tracker, Outlaw seemed on the fast track to success with the Texas Rangers.

Over time, however, a dark side revealed itself. Behind Outlaw’s cold demeanor, a nasty disposition emerged, fueled by large quantities of demon rum.

“Bass had one weakness that—at last—proved to be stronger than all his virtues,” said Texas Ranger Lon Oden. 

“Bass couldn’t leave liquor alone … none of us could handle him, none of us could reason with him, we just stayed with him until he sobered up,” Oden explained.

In 1887, the Rangers’ top brass transferred Outlaw to Company D near Alpine, Texas. 

Three years later, they promoted him several times and then put him in charge of the unit.

Outlaw’s uncontrolled drinking and hair-trigger temper proved too divisive, and Texas Ranger officials dishonorably discharged him on September 18, 1892. 

Several months later, he pinned on the badge of Deputy U.S. Marshal and joined Marshal Ware of the Western Federal Judicial District of Texas in El Paso.

But the new job didn’t change his explosive disposition.

While stalking the streets on the afternoon of April 5, 1894, and threatening Marshal Ware, Outlaw found himself face-to-face with County Constable John Selman—the same John Selman who would shoot John Wesley Hardin in the back of the head a year later.

Selman tried to talk him into returning to his hotel room. Outlaw refused and decided to visit his girlfriend, who worked at Tillie Howard’s, a local bordello.

The liquored-up Outlaw went around to the back entrance and created a disturbance by firing a shot.

Tillie, the madam, ran out of her house, blowing a police whistle to alert authorities of trouble.

Among those responding was one-time fellow Texas Ranger Private Joseph McKidrict (born Joe Cooly). McKidrict, also in town for a court appearance, had always admired and been friendly with Outlaw.

McKidrict came around the corner and asked Outlaw why he had fired his gun. The former Texas Ranger answered by shooting at McKidrict, killing him with a bullet to the head.

Outlaw then swung his gun toward Selman and fired. Selman shot back, hitting Outlaw in the chest. 

The ex-Ranger staggered and started to fall but managed to snap one more shot, wounding Selman in the leg.

Outlaw collapsed but got to his feet and staggered away and into the arms of another Texas Ranger, who helped him to a nearby saloon. He died four hours later.


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2 comments to “A LAWMAN NAMED OUTLAW”

  • Demon drink. the downfall of many a good man. Unfortunately for Mr Outlaw, if he had handled his drink as well as he handled a gun, who knows, he may have become famous, instead of infamous. It’s interesting how he almost changed history by only wounding John Selman. John Wesley Hardin may have lived a while longer.

  • Hi Bob—Great point on Outlaw possibly changing history. Hardin may have lived to be a successful practicing attorney for years.

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