October 9th, 2010
10:26 PM ET

Paper: Gunfire, tussle heard before Kent State shootings

A commotion and several shots from a pistol preceded the iconic Kent State University shootings that took place 40 years ago, analysis of an audio recording shows, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The new findings shed light - and raise new questions - on what caused the Ohio National Guard to open fire on anti-war demonstrators on May 4, 1970, in Kent, Ohio.

The events heard on the tape take place about 70 seconds before guardsmen begin firing, killing four students and wounding nine others in an event widely seen as a tipping point for American sentiment against the Vietnam War. The recording was found three years ago in library archives.

On the tape, a voice can be heard saying, "They got somebody," the newspaper reports.

"Kill him!" at least two male voices shout several times, the paper says.

"Whack that [expletive]!" or "Hit that [expletive]!" a female voice shouts, according to the Plain Dealer.

The audio seems consistent with eyewitness and news reports that an armed Kent State student identified as Terry Norman was involved in some sort of tussle. Norman was on the scene shooting photographs of protesters for the FBI.  He reportedly had been threatened by protesters on other occasions.

According to a forensic audio expert, four gunshots that match the sound of a .38-caliber revolver can be heard plainly, the newspaper reports.

While Norman has admitted to carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver that day, the newspaper reports, there has been a decades-long dispute over when he discharged the pistol, before or after the guardsmen fired - or whether he even fired the weapon that day at all.

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Filed under: History • Military • Ohio • Protest • War
soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. phil

    @marines123....ok, let us move on....to 9/11 to start. Share with us what you know of the forensic evidence concerning that day, since you wish not to dwell on the newly released forensics proving it was norman, not the national guard who murdered those four students. or did you want to skip 9/11 to some other date.

    October 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. phil

    @DC Born....we aren't "demanding change" as you posted. We are demanding that the guilty are held accountable. You should realize this, since you post "understanding the politics of the past" Here are some ancient politics for you to chew on. see if you can make the 9/11 correlation................."If the government is guilty of criminal acts, is it not the duty of the people to restrain it and punish it....as if it were a lawless individual? A body of powerful men sitting in government are no less(guilty) than a single man of crimes common to them both....but in the case of government the crime is grater and more heinous, for it strikes down the walls of a city and lays it open to the enemy"–Cicero (some 2000 years ago)

    October 10, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phil

    No further commentary....(click)

    October 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lloyd Cata

    More revisionist history for the Texas schoolbooks. America cannot have images as heinous as Tiananmen Square in its history books. So slavery becomes 'trans-Atlantic commerce', torture becomes 'enhanced interrogation', and the most massive fraud in history becomes "the Bush recession".

    Truly, "words have consequences" and America must remove those words which will bring the consequences of its history. Then when the 'new genocide' begins no one will recognize the history; they will only have to deal with the consequences.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    @Lloyd....most Americans know it's not "trans-atlantic trade. We know that African tribal leaders sold their own people into slavery. We know the Federal Reserve manipulates the economy, just as sure as we know the Alamo had nothing to do w/the USA or the freedom of americans. We knoe Columus didn't discover America in 1492 (the Chinese did in 1421) and we know George Washington wasn't reallyy the first President, he was just the first appointed by Congress. We simply cannot afford to continually publish new history books for schools every time the truth about a particular history is revealed. That's why the family unit, not the history book, is the basic unit of civilization. Our fathers and mothers make sure we know history, no matter what the hist. book says.

    October 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marines123

    Come on Phil! I need more information to speak before I further comment on the National Guard incident. I did see on television as the second plane struck the twin tower. Their is overwhelming evidence visual, sound, eyewitnesses, plane parts, fire, to prove a plane hit the tower as I saw! I would have to see more proof beyong a reasonable doubt concerning the guardman issue. I believe in hard evidence and good common sense to solve such trivial topics. But! I don't want to be like -rans President saying the Hallacaust did not happen? Such lunitic remarks.

    October 11, 2010 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marines123

    I wouldn't doubt it that the photographer working for the FBI discharged his weapon either accidently or on purpose. But, you know what happens when a weapon is discharged? All hell breaks loose, and the National Guard opened up on the crowd. How many rounds did the National Guard fire? We need to see more proof.

    October 11, 2010 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. phil

    There is a tape recording of the entire event. Modern forensic evaluation of this tape reveals the sound signature of 4 .38 cal. shots being fired 70 seconds before the National Guardsmen began firing.. The tape recording was made by a crew from Cleveland's WKYC-TV who filmed the incident. The film shows an FBI informant running away from two men screaming "hey! stop that man! i saw him shoot someone" after the 4 shots were fired. The informant's gun was taken by a policeman, and two eyewitnesses heard him say that the gun had been fired, and 4 chambers were empty.. 9 other shots were fired by the Guardsmen, 70 seconds after the FBI guy's shots were fired. finding: National Innocent. FBI guilty ...case closed.

    October 11, 2010 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. BULL

    All these high and mightier-than-though folks pontificating about murder seem to have no problem at all with Bill Ayers running free, even taking time out from his busy schedule as tenured asshat to pose while stomping all over the flag.

    Pass the Koolaid, children..

    October 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. des higgins

    we have had our kent state massacre here in derry northern ireland on 30th jan 1972 when state forces opened fire on a peaceful demonstration killing 14 people and wounding a further 13 people

    it took almost 40 years for the british government to admit to the world that all those killed or wounded on that day were totally innocent of any wrong doing
    this incident became known universally as BLOODY SUNDAY heres hoping the friends and relatives of kent state too receive recoginition of their ongoing campaign to have the us government admit the actions of their armed forces

    October 26, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. The Dude

    that's a lot of freaking comments..... :P

    November 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Blogger Dutch Man

    antidisestablishmentarianism is a really long word.......

    November 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ronno

    Yeah? So? And what's that got to do with this article?

    October 9, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ronno

    (I was responding to someone who posted some stupid old film clip off youtube. The moderator has since removed it, leaving me sounding a bit batty talking to empty air, lol !)

    October 10, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. GinnyL

    Welcome to the club, Ronno! I think we have all BEEN a bit batty, let alone only sounding batty!

    October 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
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