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The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre and the Kent State massacre, were the killings of four and wounding of nine other unarmed Kent State University students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970 in Kent, Ohio. The killings took place during a peace rally opposing the expanding involvement of the Vietnam War into Cambodia by United States military forces as well as protesting the National Guard presence on campus. The incident marked the first time that a student had been killed in an anti-war gathering in United States history.
Twenty-eight National Guard soldiers fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Students Allison Beth Krause, 19, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20, and Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20, died on the scene, while William Knox Schroeder, 19, was pronounced dead at Robinson Memorial Hospital in nearby Ravenna shortly afterward.
Krause and Miller were among the upward of 300 students who gathered to protest the expansion of the Cambodian Campaign, which President Richard Nixon had announced in an April 30 television address four days earlier. Scheuer and Schroeder were in the crowd of several hundred others who had been observing the proceedings at distances of more than 300 feet (91 m) from the firing line; like most of the observers, they were watching the protest during a break between their classes.
The fatal shootings triggered immediate and massive outrage on campuses around the country. More than 4 million students participated in organized walk-outs at hundreds of universities, colleges and high schools, the largest student strike in the history of the United States at that time. The student strike of 1970 further affected public opinion at an already socially contentious time over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.
- John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after the unarmed student was fatally shot by an Ohio National Guardsman.
- Howard Ruffner—Getty Images
- May 4 Collection, Kent State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives