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Pistol Shots Heard Before Kent State Student Deaths

Recording raises new questions about 1970 tragedy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2010 5:21 PM CDT
Pistol Shots Heard Before Kent State Student Deaths
This undated photo released by the Kent May 4 Center shows .38 caliber shells found at the hilltop where shootings took place at Kent State University, on May 4, 1970.   (AP Photo/Kent May 4 Center, Alan Canfora)

(Newser) – A new wrinkle in an iconic moment of modern American history: An audio expert analyzing tape of the Kent State shootings of 1970 says four pistol shots rang out about a minute before the National Guard opened fire on students, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If true, it lends credence to the theory that Guardsmen thought they were under sniper attack and responded in kind. It also supports the long-held notion that a photographer at the scene—working for the FBI—fired his pistol just before the Guard shootings when he felt threatened by protesters.

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The Plain Dealer unwinds all the theories, with photographer Terry Norman at the center. He is nowhere to be found today, but he previously denied firing his .38-caliber gun. A TV reporter at the scene swears he heard a cop take it from him and say, "Oh my God, he fired four times." More than anything, the audio finding raises more questions than it answers. "All these questions add to the pressure on the US and Ohio governments to begin a new investigation so we can determine the ultimate truths about this tragedy," says a protester wounded that day. Four others were killed.
(Read more Kent State stories.)

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