Kent State shooting victim recalls May 4, 1970 as call goes out to reopen investigation

KENT, Ohio - It was 42 years ago today that Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a group of students on the campus of Kent State University killing four and wounding nine.

67 shots rang out over a span of 13 seconds that for Dean Kahler felt like an eternity.

"When you're lying there on the ground and you here eight or nine bullets hitting the ground around you, you don't forget that sound."

Kahler had dropped to the ground before the shots rang out. "When somebody turns deliberately and lowers there weapon in that particular stance you know they are ready to pull the trigger."

As he dove to the ground they would be the last steps he would ever take, a bullet hit below his left shoulder damaging his spinal cord. "I knew instantaneously, it felt like a bee sting," he said.

Left a paraplegic Kahler knows he was lucky to live, four of his fellow classmates did not.

As he recovered he was eventually transferred to Highland View Hospital, just off 271 for rehab. He recalled that one of the things that brought him great joy at that time were his sometimes daily calls from WEWS-TV's Dorothy Fuldheim.

"She would call me very often and we'd sit and talk about this stuff," Kahler recalled. "We'd be on the phone for an hour, hour and a half sometimes."

Kahler came to Kent State Thursday to join Alan Canfora, who was also shot May 4, in calling for increased pressure on government leaders to push for answers to what we really happened that day.

They gathered a week after the Department of Justice said they would not be reopening the investigation into the shootings based on analysis of a student audio recording of the events that day. Some analysts believe there was a command to fire audible on the tape. The DOJ ruled that their analysis of that was inconclusive.

Canfora hopes that a new investigation that offers immunity to the guardsmen is the only way to know once and for all what if any orders were given. "We would like the government to join with us to indicate to these guardsmen that they do not have to fear any kind of reprisal or retribution or punishment," he said.

That was the key to the solution in Great Britain about the bloody Sunday tragedy in Northern Ireland, he said. "They gave that guarantee of immunity and many of these shooters and the officers came forward and revealed the truth."

The truth for Kahler would mean setting the record straight in the minds of many. "There are still people who think that I'm a crazy radical hippie who deserved to be shot and killed that day, I mean those animosities still exist out there."

"To have that animosity directed towards us all these years it would be nice to have some of that gone and people know what the real truth is so they can put it square in there minds as well," Kahler said.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments