Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20
Allison B. Krause; age 19
William Knox Schroeder; age 19
Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20
They were murdered on this day.
May 4th 1970. It was a Monday, the sun dawned bright and clear. At Kent State University, there was a planned protest at noon against President Nixon's policy to expand the Vietnam War into neighboring Cambodia (something he was already doing). Around 500 students showed up to the protest, many more came to watch, standing around the perimeter, totaling around 2,000. Since classes were still being held, students were crossing the campus to get to their classrooms. Governor Rhodes, in response to protests the night before, had called out the National Guard.
Rhodes said. "They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. Now I want to say this. They are not going to take over [the] campus. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America." Rhodes can be heard in the recording of his speech yelling and pounding his fists on the desk. He acted as if martial law had been declared, an impression he conveyed to the Guard and law enforcement. The Guard felt they were walking into a possible insurrection rather than a student protest. The students themselves were unarmed, except for an informant planted by the FBI on campus. The FBI did that a lot.
As the protest began the Guard was ordered to disperse it, the legality of which was later questioned. The guard, with rifles drawn, marched towards the students, who retreated. The guards, finding themselves against a chain link fence, turned and started retracing their steps. At this point, most of the students had gone, but a few hundred were left, and started advancing toward the guard, throwing back the tear gas canisters that had been launched at them.
At this point, the Guardsmen opened fire on the unarmed students. Why? Some claimed later there was a sniper firing on them. No evidence or eyewitnesses has ever been found to support this claim. According to eyewitnesses, Sgt. Myron Pryor turned, unprovoked, and began firing at the students with his .45 pistol. Suddenly, the guardsmen nearest the students turned, crouched, and fired their rifles at the students. In all, 29 of the 77 guardsmen claimed to have fired their weapons, using a final total of 67 rounds of ammunition. A controversial tape recording of the incident, found years later, shows a command was given to fire, something the Guard denied.
Four students were murdered, two on their way to class, nine other were wounded. Of those killed, no one was closer than 71 feet away from the Guard.
Those killed, and how far they were from the 'threatened' Guard:
Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20; 265 ft (81 m) shot through the mouth; killed instantly
Allison B. Krause; age 19; 343 ft (105 m) fatal left chest wound; died later that day
William Knox Schroeder; age 19; 382 ft (116 m) shot in the back; fatal chest wound; died almost an hour later in a hospital while undergoing surgery
Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20; 390 ft (120 m) fatal neck wound; died a few minutes later from loss of blood.
None of the Guardsmen were found to be at fault, no one was ever convicted for the killings and injuries.