Terry Norman was working for the FBI and carrying a .38 caliber pistol the day of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970. Did his deliberate discharge of his pistol give National Guardsmen the pretense to fire on the protesters? This newly revealed evidence suggests that that’s what happened.
In a related story, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is launching an investigation into what role Norman played in the event.
KENT, Ohio — A noisy, violent altercation and four pistol shots took place about 70 seconds before Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on antiwar protesters at Kent State University, according to a new analysis of a 40-year-old audiotape of the event.
The discovery adds new perspective to — and raises new questions about — one of the signature events of the 20th century, after four decades of spirited discussion and research.
“They got somebody,” an observer says. “Kill him!” at least two male voices repeatedly shout, followed by sounds of a struggle and a female voice yelling, “Whack that [expletive]!” or “Hit that [expletive]!” Four distinct shots matching the acoustic signature of a .38-caliber revolver then ring out, according to a review by New Jersey forensic audio expert Stuart Allen.
Earlier this year, Allen and colleague Tom Owen examined the recording at The Plain Dealer’s request and determined that Guardsmen were given an order to prepare to fire moments before they unleashed a 13-second fusillade of rifle shots at a May 4, 1970 demonstration that killed four students and wounded nine others. What compelled the Guard to shoot is the central mystery of the iconic event, which galvanized sentiment against the Vietnam War.
After uncovering the apparent command, Allen has continued to study and enhance the old recording, and determined this week that it also contains the clash and the pistol fire that precede the Guard volley.
Though the tussle and pistol shots, if authenticated, match some key details of a confrontation several witnesses reported seeing or hearing involving a pistol-waving Kent State student named Terry Norman, they raise many new questions.
Norman was photographing protestors that day for the FBI and carried a loaded .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Model 36 five-shot revolver in a holster under his coat for protection. Though he denied discharging his pistol, he previously has been accused of triggering the Guard shootings by firing to warn away angry demonstrators, which the soldiers mistook for sniper fire.
Read more at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.