Kent State Audio Tape Released
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 2, 2007
KENT, Ohio (AP) -- A static-filled recording of the
1970 Kent State University shooting that killed four
students raises questions not only about whether
someone called on National Guardsmen to fire, but
also who might have given the order.
The tape was released Tuesday by Alan Canfora, 58,
one of nine students wounded in the 1970 shootings.
He played two versions of the tape -- the original
and an amplified version -- in which he says a Guard
officer issues the command, ''Right here! Get Set!
Background noise on the recording made it difficult
to understand as it was played for students and
reporters in a campus theater Tuesday. The word
''point'' is clear, followed by the sound of shots
being fired. There is no indication on the tape of
who said the word.
The tape was given to Yale in 1979 for its Kent
State archives by an attorney who represented
students in a lawsuit filed against the state over
the shooting. Canfora said he found out about it six
months ago while researching the shooting.
Some said they wondered what would be achieved by
releasing the tape so many years after the
''I think both sides were at fault,'' said Brett
Wilson, 18, a Kent State student. He said students
were trying to provoke the Guard and Guardsmen
overreacted with deadly force.
But Canfora said he will turn over copies of the
tape to federal and state officials with an appeal
to reopen the investigation over how the firing
''We're hoping for new investigations and new
truths,'' he said. ''We need truth, we need
He said voice analysis might help determine who was
speaking on the tape.
''I think we'll know who gave that order,'' Canfora
After an initial investigation, the case was
reopened in 1973 when a grand jury indicted eight
Guardsmen. They were acquitted of federal civil
rights charges the next year.
Larry Shafer, a former Guardsman who said he fired
during the shootings and was among those charged,
told the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier newspaper on
Tuesday that he was unaware of the tape and that
''point'' would not have been part of a proper
''I never heard any command to fire. That's all I
can say on that,'' Shafer, a Ravenna city councilman
and former fire chief, told the newspaper. ''That's
not to say there may not have been, but with all the
racket and noise, I don't know how anyone could have
heard anything that day.''
The FBI, which investigated whether an order had
been given to fire, said at the time it could only
speculate. One theory was that a Guardsman panicked
or fired intentionally at a student and that others
fired when they heard the shot.
Canfora said the reel-to-reel audio recording was
made by Terry Strubbe, a student who placed a
microphone at a windowsill of his dormitory that
overlooked the anti-war rally. Strubbe turned the
tape over to the FBI, which kept a copy.
Stan Pottinger, who helped prosecute the Guardsmen
in the early 1970s as an assistant attorney general
with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice
Department, said Tuesday from New York that he
doubts anything was overlooked then.
He said he could not specifically recall the Strubbe
tape, but said audio recordings and film were
Pottinger said justice was served.
''The Guardsmen were acquitted, the case was closed,
the families expressed enormous gratitude for the
reopening of the case and that was it,'' he said.
Canfora said only a small portion of the tape was
reviewed during various investigations.
Scott Wilson, a spokesman with the FBI in Cleveland,
said Tuesday that he was unaware of any request to
look into the matter. The Ohio National Guard had no
comment on the tape's release, spokesman James Sims
Strubbe, who still lives near Kent, keeps the
original tape in a safe deposit box, said Canfora,
who heads a nonprofit organization at Kent State
that leads a candlelight vigil every May 4 to mark
the anniversary of the shootings. Friday will mark
the 37th anniversary.
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