COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who was shot when National Guard troops opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University 37 years ago said Sunday the federal government should reopen its investigation because an audio recording taken on campus that day reveals an order to fire.
Alan Canfora, who was shot and wounded in the right wrist, said he requested a copy of the nearly 30 minute tape six months ago from Yale University, where a government copy had been stored in an archive. Just before a 13-second barrage of gunfire, a voice on the tape yells, "Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!" Canfora said.
The FBI investigated whether an order had been given to fire on May 4, 1970, and said it could only speculate. One theory was that a guardsman panicked or fired intentionally at a student and others fired when they heard the shot.
"We think this is a troubling piece of evidence that was somehow overlooked," said Canfora, who planned to release CD copies of the recording Tuesday at news conference at Kent State, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland. "We're not seeking revenge or a new prosecution of guardsmen, we just want the truth."
Canfora said he cannot identify the voice on the tape or say for certain that it belongs to a guardsman. The government should analyze the recording using new technology, he said.
Mark Wayda, spokesman for the Ohio National Guard, said Sunday he was unaware of the tape and declined comment.
Four Kent State students were killed and nine were wounded in a clash with students that followed several days of anti-Vietnam War protests.
In 1974, eight guardsmen tried on federal civil rights charges were acquitted by a U.S. judge.
Canfora said the reel-to-reel audio recording was made by Terry Strubbe, a student who placed a microphone in a window sill of his dormitory that overlooked the anti-war rally. Strubbe turned the tape over to the FBI, which made a copy and gave it back, Canfora said.
Sounds of the gunfire were played during court proceedings, but Canfora said he was unaware whether attorneys listened to the whole recording.
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.
Strubbe has an unlisted phone number.