New analysis of 40-year-old recording of Kent State shootings reveals that Ohio Guard was given an order to prepare to fire





Owen and Allen 1.jpgSarah Rice, Special to The Plain DealerForensic audio experts Stuart Allen, seated, and Tom Owen, discuss the contents of a tape that captured the events leading to the May 4, 1970 Ohio National Guard shootings at Kent State University. The Ohio National Guardsmen who fired on students and antiwar protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 were given an order to prepare to shoot, according to a new analysis of a 40-year-old audio tape of the event.

"Guard!" says a male voice on the recording, which two forensic audio experts enhanced and evaluated at the request of The Plain Dealer. Several seconds pass. Then, "All right, prepare to fire!"

"Get down!" someone shouts urgently, presumably in the crowd. Finally, "Guard! . . . " followed two seconds later by a long, booming volley of gunshots. The entire spoken sequence lasts 17 seconds.

The previously undetected command could begin to explain the central mystery of the Kent State tragedy - why 28 Guardsmen pivoted in unison atop Blanket Hill, raised their rifles and pistols and fired 67 times, killing four students and wounding nine others in an act that galvanized sentiment against the Vietnam War.

The order indicates that the gunshots were not spontaneous, or in response to sniper fire, as some have suggested over the years....

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