Kent State Victim Claims Evidence of Order to Fire A man wounded when Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on student anti-war protesters at Kent State University 37 years ago says an audiotape recorded that day reveals that someone gave the order to fire.

Kent State Victim Claims Evidence of Order to Fire

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's David Schaper has the details.

DAVID SCHAPER: Unidentified Man: (Unintelligible) shot.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOTAPE)

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

ALAN CANFORA: The words that were spoken are these: Right here! Get set! Point! Fire! And the gunfire begins.

SCHAPER: Eight of the guardsmen stood trial in 1974 but were acquitted. In a news conference on Kent State's campus today, Canfora said he recently requested a copy of an old reel-to-reel recording, made by a student who put a microphone on the windowsill of his dorm room that day, from the archives at Yale University where the tape's been stored. Though it may be hard to hear exactly what's said before the shooting begins, Canfora calls it conclusive proof of what he's long suspected.

CANFORA: The evidence speaks for itself.

SCHAPER: Canfora is calling for Congress, the FBI, the Justice Department and state authorities to reinvestigate the Kent State shooting and use the latest technology to enhance the audio quality. But not everyone is so sure.

WILLIAM GORDON: It just seems to me highly unlikely that he could hear something that no one else could hear.

SCHAPER: An FBI spokesman said investigators are willing to take a listen, but he says it would be premature to say whether or not the agency would open a new investigation. But if the audiotape contains what Canfora claims, it could be a major breakthrough, says Kent State sociology professor emeritus Jerry Lewis. Lewis was a faculty marshal 37 years ago and witnessed the shooting. And he says if there was an audible command to fire, it should lead to a broader investigation.

JERRY LEWIS: That suggests that we need to find out if in fact there was a conspiracy, a broader conspiracy in the Nixon administration, or a more narrow conspiracy, that the guardsmen on the field worked out this plan to fire when they reached this high point near the pagoda.

SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News.

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