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Narrator Heasley, William Derry
Narrator's Role Student at Kent State University in 1970
Date of Interview 1990-05-04
Description William Derry Heasley was a Vietnam veteran and an undergraduate student at Kent State University in 1970. He had also grown up in Kent, Ohio. In this oral history, he relates his memories of the events he witnessed on campus the day of the shootings, May 4, 1970. He had been out of town the weekend before, and first discusses his observations as he drove back to Kent and saw the city from a high vantage point a distance away. He describes what looked to him like a scene from a war movie with military vehicles, emergency vehicles, lights flashing, and numerous helicopters circling overhead. He was in the Commons during the rally on Monday, May 4, describes the events that he saw take place, and gives his eyewitness account of the shootings. He discusses, in detail, his assessment of the mood of the crowd that day and his observation that a small minority of people in the crowd were the ones who were shouting and agitating and that these were people that he had never seen in Kent before. He was standing outside Johnson Hall when the shots were fired, and discusses how he and everyone around him first assumed that blanks were being fired. He gives a detailed description of a man he saw run past, moments after the shootings, who was being chased by another man who shouted, 'Get him, he's the one, he's got the gun!' He also discusses his interrogation by the FBI a few days later and points out that it seemed to him that the FBI was predominantly interested in incriminating evidence against Thomas Lough.
Length of Interview 55:34 minutes
Places Discussed Kent (Ohio)
Time Period discussed 1970
Subject(s) College students--Ohio--Kent--Interviews
Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio, 1970
Lough, Thomas S., 1928-
Military helicopters
Miller, Jeffrey, d. 1970
Ohio. Army National Guard
Peace movements--Ohio--Kent
Tear gas munitions
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Veterans--Interviews
Repository Special Collections and Archives
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