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Transcription of the recorded statement of William Resch conducted by the Commission on KSU Violence.
[William Resch]: My name is William Resch. R-E-S-C-H. I’m a graduate student in the physics department. I live at 846 Allerton Street. I have an office number. 2235. My home number’s listed in the Kent phonebook.
I saw firsthand a predominance of what happened between 8 o’clock Saturday evening and through including witnessing the shooting incident shortly after noon on Monday.
I had heard of the Friday night problems downtown. I was in Columbus at the time at a convention. I got back to town about 8:00 in the evening. Hurried somewhat to beat the curfew I’d heard had been imposed, and so I was driving a University car when I let the other person riding with me off on the other side of town out past Oak Knolls Golf Course, and I came back through and I drove back around the University up East Main and Horning Road and down Loop Road and noticed that there was a large collection of people in the Tri Towers area. I had a police radio and I knew that they also liked that–that they had noticed the same thing. So I went on home and got my wife to get our car and–so I could return the University car to the carpool area, and then for her to drive me home. So we went down to the carpool area and I dropped off the car, and as we were coming out of that area past the ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] Buildings and up and out toward Satterfield, we saw the crowd coming over the rim of the Commons in the area of Taylor Hall. So, we drove around campus to the parking lot there by Prentice Hall, parked the car and went up on the hill by Taylor to see what was going on. The crowd by that time had proceeded down into the Commons, and as I remember, very shortly after we got there we were standing on the hill, and we heard them start to throw rocks and chanting and somebody threw a torch. Some was thrown through a window in the back corner of the building and a fire was started somehow or another in that area. Well, that fire went out, as I remember, several times, and they had to work on it. All the time here we were listening to the police radio and it was very obvious to me, and I was somewhat happy to see, at least at the onset, that there had been no police around, that the crowd had been in essence innocent ‘til proved guilty. In other words, they were marching in a relatively peaceful manner across campus towards the Commons and I was glad to see that they were not stopped from doing that.
Of course, when the attempts to set the building on fire began and this type of thing, the City Fire Department was called in and as they gathered they came down and were assaulted quite heavily by the students. I know I heard a request on the police radio to be allowed to use gas, and they were told they could use gas, and apparently the kids cut up the firehose and I saw that carried off. Course then when they–either another fire truck came back or that little service pickup truck came back with a new hose or something. I think they had sheriff deputies there to help protect the firemen. But, sometime in that time of course was the first time that–Saturday night when any gas had been used.
So anyway the crowd–after a while the crowd had seemed to pull back some from the building, back out on the Commons and some of them back up on the hill where we were. But it was no longer just pure spectators back on the hill, but there were a few people who were a little more active than the spectator type. Somewhere along this point the whole roof of the ROTC Building burst into flames and a large part of the crowd that was on the Commons withdrew all the way back onto the hill. Of course, as they would come back I would go farther back. I had gotten well away from it down toward the parking lot there beside Prentice Hall. What I saw, that it was still safe to be around the area, I had sort of wandered back, and some place along in there, then they set the little equipment shed there by the tennis courts on fire. I thought it was kind of interesting. A couple of very interesting things happened with the crowd on the hill. One was the fact that when they set the shed on fire, eventually caught some of the overhanging trees on fire, and the people who seemed to be the most vocal, I guess you’d say the leaders of the crowd, they began trying to get everybody to go to the dormitories and get fire extinguishers and waste baskets full of water to save the trees, and a number of them actually got a couple of the seating planks off the bleachers there by the tennis courts and used them to push down the burning equipment shed so that they then could put out the trees and put the fire on it out somewhat.
Another instance, and I think this happened before the little equipment shed was set on fire, was one of them in the crowd, and this is probably–this is where I first got my impression there–a definite impression, other than just a suspicion, that’s sort of nebulous–in other words, I felt sure after this incident that there were outsiders involved in this. The reason I thought this was that one person, and I remember distinctly him having a red headband on, threw a rock or brick or something, I didn't see what he threw, through the window of the Editor's office of the Kent Stater there at the bottom corner of Taylor Hall. Immediately, when everybody heard the glass breaking, the–many people in the crowd, and a lot of these, the actual leaders, the people I would call the leaders, the most vocal ones who were saying, “go this way, go that way, let's do this,” started shouting at him, that, you know, “Leave Taylor Hall alone, we don't want to hurt Taylor Hall,” this type of thing.
And the guy looked sort of sheepish, you know, and sort of grinned and walked over into the crowd. But he was pretty well chastised by the crowd up there, and I wondered why, why he would do this. One would assume that he would have the same motives possibly that the rest of them would if he knew the campus. Either that, or he was just a plain destructive person, he just wanted to throw rocks through windows, just for the fun of it. But, I was a little intrigued at that particular thing and I guess I gave him a pretty good long look trying to remember if I had seen him before, and I don't think I had. Certainly I don't know every student in the University, but I feel that–I go to these rallies and meetings purely as an observer, and go to as many of them as possible, and I really just didn't have the impression of having seen him before or that he was a KSU fellow. Well, that’s–I think I saw him in some of the activities Sunday and Monday, but I never was close to him again and–but this is when I first really began to wonder if there weren't others involved.
Sunday night, well anyway, let’s see there was one other incident Saturday night that I thought was sort of important. I stayed up on the hill, and apparently there was a lot else going on toward front campus and things like that that I totally missed, but I thought at one time there was a group down under–down around the Education Building. And we had decided to leave because everything was quieted down and everything in the hill area there. So we drove out by Terrace Hall, I guess, yeah it’s Terrace there, through the gates and drove down the street and we noticed there were a bunch of people on the upper side of the Education Building. So I drove in under it and parked the car and we hopped out to see what was going on. By the time we got up there–really it seemed almost in the time that it took us to get driven under the building and parked and out of the car that everybody had disappeared from the entire area there between the Union and Lowry Hall and the Education Building, in the circle area there. And, so we get–we saw a policeman up near the heating plant. They were marching in front of the heating plant and then turning down toward the ROTC Building. So we decided to walk up in that direction a little bit and see what we could see from that angle. We got about halfway up, about even with–oh in the area there sort of between the Union and the printing–where you enter the printing office there across the street, and some kid stopped us and told us we better not go on up there because they’d just thrown some gas and it was still hanging in the air, and it was apparently spread out a lot. We noticed that, well, after standing there a couple minutes and talking to him that our nose was burning a little bit and our eyes were watering. So we turned around to leave and about this time a bunch of guys came over the hill between Lowry and the next hall down toward East Main Street, down the drive where the housing office is located. They came over there and they had–there were maybe 10 of them, and they had bricks and some broken cinder block in their hands and they looked around as if, “Gee, we thought the action was here”, and there were some comments, “Where's everybody”, and all like that. The guy in front, also with a red headband, but not the guy I had seen earlier in the evening, but with a red headband on, made some comment like “[Emmer’s?] group went that way,” and pointed sort of over toward the Commons. I'm not sure of the exact quote. The meaning was that the group had gone that way but the word, the name that he used definitely was the name “Emmer.” My wife had heard it too and we had sort of simultaneously looked at each other and said “Emmer?” So I did report that particular occurrence to the University Police in a statement somewhat later in the week of the 4th, I guess around the 6th or 7th.
After that, we gave up for the evening and went home. Everything seemed to be quieting down and I figured it was over. Sunday night I went out, again about dusk, to see if anything was happening, and sure enough it was happening. I ended up staying on the–in the area of the Music and Speech Building that evening. I’d driven up into that area because I had assumed that I’d go back up by Prentice Hall and park the car and see what was going on on the Commons. As it turned out, there was a fair sized crowd at that point and they seemed to be marching back toward the Tri Towers area on the other side of Dunbar Hall through the Graduate and Employee parking area, some place down like that.
I picked up a couple of kids who were up there on campus and said they didn’t–there was a guy and his girl and they didn't want anything to do with it and I said, well, I was going to drive back down toward the Eastway area to see where they were going. I had no idea why they would be going back in that direction. So I took these kids back there and dropped them off right across from the Health Center, and looked up and the group was coming down the street. And I wondered, “What in the world are they doing here?” I turned the car around and got out. Then they apparently went then by Eastway and over by Tri Towers again. Then they came up in the–toward Music and Speech up in the parking lot up in there, and there was apparently some gas thrown in that crowd, and I parked the car up there. I didn't know which way they were going. I had never seen, anytime on this campus, a crowd march around the campus to pick up supporters, which is what I assumed they were doing. It was a completely new tactic. So, I stayed up there by Music and Speech for a good bit of the rest of the evening. The crowd, of course, they left very soon after that–left that area and there were a good–there was a lot of Guard up there in the area of Prentice and Dunbar Halls and in that area and I didn’t–was not so inclined to attempt to pass their lines, so I stood back in this area with a couple of guys from WKNT Radio and watched the helicopters flying overhead and listened to the police radio and everything sounded very disorganized. So, very soon after I gave up that night. But like I say, I’d never seen a march around campus like that to pick up people. All this time I’m wondering, “Why are these kids doing this?” They haven't got, as far as I can tell, any demands or any real abiding reason for doing this. It seemed like they were just doing it, sort of fun. I was just not able to come up on any clearly defined reason that they might be doing this. I guess it was beginning at this point, it was beginning to look like they were just doing it to spite the Guard.
Well, on Monday I had taken my wife to work at the Supply Center, and I’d gone back over to Smith Hall, which is where my office is. I’d come to pick her up at noon and found out when I got to the Supply Center that she had phone duty or something and wouldn't be ready to go until 1:00. I’d not even dreamt of crowds forming in the daytime. They’d been ordered not to form, and things like that. Well it’s just crazy but there are going to be some of them out there anyway, I might as well go have a look and see what they're doing. So I was going to go kill an hour between 12:00 and 1:00, and go out and look in the Commons and see what was happening. So I parked up in front of Music and Speech, and walked up, I guess it’s Theater Drive, until I got to the intersection at Prentice and Dunbar Halls, and noticed an awful lot of people standing out in between the halls, appearing to–watching something over in the area of the Taylor Hall parking lot and the old practice football field. So I walked up there to see what was happening. I got up there, and this is like 10 after 12:00 or something like that.
It was clear that there was a large crowd, and I estimated in the neighborhood of 500 plus, who were out there, and a small group of Guardsmen down on that practice football field, 20 maybe, 15 or 20. The crowd was throwing rocks at them and shouting and chanting. There was a good bit of throwing toward them. They were playing a game of pitch and toss with a tear gas canister that was still–gas was still coming out of it. There was something different, I don't know what, there was something different about the crowd, a very non-objective statement, I know, but I’d never seen the canisters being pitched back and forth here before, and the crowd seemed like it was a little bit more excited than usual. Very soon after I got there, I was standing at the corner of–on the sidewalk in front of Dunbar Hall, in other words I was across the street from the end of the Taylor Hall parking lot and there were some cars between, you know, I was 2 or 3 cars down the street which would be between me and where they eventually were actually shooting. And very soon after that, within 5 minutes after the sort of a game playing, the Guard turned and marched toward the end of Taylor Hall, sort of obliquely up across the hill, sort of toward that concrete umbrella.
As they got up the hill, not quite to the crest of the hill, they were still short of the crest of the hill, the crowd, somebody in the crowd, there was a distinct shout, something about they're cutting us off. And it seemed that the crowd realized, or at least somebody in the crowd realized and shouted to the fact that the crowd was being cut off from the Commons. The impression at that point you know–previous to that I’d had the impression that the reason Guard had started to march up was because they were out of tear gas, but they weren't doing anything with the crowd, that it was a standoff. They weren't moving the crowd anyplace. The crowd wasn't moving them anyplace. So they marched up the hill and somebody said that they're cutting us off. The crowd then started to funnel toward the Guard as they were still moving up the hill and they were shouting “Kill” and “Kill the pigs,” and they were throwing rocks, sticks, some of them were waving sticks. A guy was waving a flag. They were rushing just full force at the Guard line. I saw–I remember seeing the Guard turn, and being objective, of course I've seen the pictures since, but my impression at the time, I’ll try not to cloud what I actually saw, you know with the news and stuff since, but my impression was that they turned and they aimed their rifles at the crowd, but from the hip, not from a stock on the shoulder shooting position, but it seemed from the hip, from sort of a half-crouch. They stood there just momentarily and there was a single shot, and then there was a volley, and the single shot did not seem to me to be any different in sound, you know loudness or tone or anything from the other shots. In other words, I did not have the impression that anybody had fired on them or something like that, more as if one of them had felt–and see by this time you know the crowd was at a dead run, coming toward them, and like I say it was a small number of men who I could see from this angle. I suppose there were more people back there, but–[who were?] Guardsmen–but they were blocked from my view. These people were at a dead run, shouting, throwing things, shouting “kill.” This–things with this intent and the word “kill,” like 10 yards from the Guard line. These guys were just faced with a thundering herd and it seemed to me that one of them shot and then the other ones realized, well, I no longer can question whether or not I'm going to shoot to protect myself because they're definitely coming for us now.
So then there was the whole volley and people were hitting the ground, you know. I couldn't believe–I suppose I wasn’t rationally thinking right at that moment. I of course thought they were shooting blanks, that was my first impression. Then, I realized that they were shooting–well, then I thought, well, you know, I thought they shot into the ground because I thought I saw an awful lot of dust kick up right in front of the Guardsmen, you know, between them and the crowd. After the volley, was just a momentary pause, you know, it was just a hush. And all of a sudden there was a tremendous wave of tear gas that came, there was a good breeze blowing from the area where the crowd was and the Guard and everything down to where I was there near Dunbar Hall. It was, you know, a fairly stiff breeze. I remember distinctly smelling gunsmoke, the smokeless powder, and then all of a sudden tear gas, and I thought at that time then, and I guess still not thinking rationally, well they must have thrown a tremendous amount of tear gas to stop that rush you know. I didn't know who threw it, you know, I didn't see anybody else, and I saw these guys apparently with their guns.
But anyway, the gas was so strong that I couldn't just stay out there at that time, and I guess people were beginning to stand up and things like that. There were a number of people running back toward me at the point I’m sure, and I took off back in the opposite direction, back toward Theater Drive to get away from the gas that was coming down through there, tear gas. And, people began to be–you know, would be running back at a dead run screaming “They’ve shot people! People are dead up there!” Things like that.
It was still hard to believe. I guess the–some kid came running by who had been I guess shot through the wrist. He had a cloth around his left wrist and was shouting something to the effect that he’d been shot and it was, you know, it was still sort of hard to believe. So anyway, I went around behind Dunbar Hall and came back up by the tennis courts, to come up sort of out of the direction of the wind. I went back up as far as the Taylor Hall parking lot, on the lower end of it there.
By that time ambulances had begun to arrive, and those people clustered around people lying on the ground up on the hill, and they were starting to carry people back. The ambulance people had–some of them, one of the ambulances drove up there, and another one, I guess a couple of them jumped out with stretchers, you know, and ran up to the area and came back, and could tell that there were–well, it was–you know, they carried the kids right past where I was standing. I saw the one they called Allison. There was a couple of girls following her, sort of in shock, saying “That's Allison,” “That's Allison,” you know, “Oh my God.”
After they seemed to have cleared most everybody away, and [unintelligible] of the crowd was gone from the area, I don't know where they went, you know, I suppose a lot of people went back to the Commons and the Guard went back to the Commons, and things like that, I don’t know. I went up and noticed there were some cars with windows broken out in the upper part of the Taylor Hall parking lot, and at that point, I guess was the first time I really knew for sure what had happened, what type of weapons had been used, because the obvious trajectory of the–as you could see from the holes in the car windows and where the glass had fallen on the inside on one side and on the outside on the other. It was obvious which direction the shots had come from, and from the size of the hole it was obvious that it was not a .22 or anything like that. It was obvious it was not a shotgun. It had to be a large caliber weapon firing a single slug.
I guess that’s when it really dawned on me precisely what had happened, and I left the area at that point and went home. I guess that rounds out really that the predominance of the impressions I would like to convey to you gentlemen in your investigation of the incident. I realize some of this is my impressions and I hope they’ll be useful, and I’ve tried to be as factual and to represent things as much the way I saw them at the time as I possibly can, since there has been somewhat of a time lag, and of course there have been pictures and theories of what happened, and various other things to–would make some modification of what my impressions might have been. I guess generally my–the impressions that I have, that to sum them up was, that there were outside people. I’m sure in my own mind, even after all the considerations of course I can't know everybody and things like that, I still think that the vocal, shall we say leader types, that some of them were outside people. I don't have the impression that there was any sniper firing at the shooting incident. I never had that impression. It’s always been hard for me to feel that there was some feeling like that. Although I will have to admit with the extreme amount of noise that was being made, a small calibre weapon, such as a .22, you probably could not have heard it being fired if it had been fired from some place like Prentice Hall. It just, unless you were standing right there where it was fired you couldn't hear it because it was very noisy. I guess what I'm trying to convey in another sense here is that this crowd that was in that Taylor Hall area was different from any other crowd I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a number of them here. I’ve seen, I guess, most of them–most of the crowd type activities that have gone on here in the last two or three years. Certainly the Music and Speech business last year and the Administration Building and all these others. But I’ve never seen a crowd quite that vicious as they were at the point when they charged toward the Guard line, and the Guards were of course still in single file, still marching away from them. I’ve never, well, they were shouting “kill” and phrases with, “kill the pigs,” things of that nature. And it’s just different, much more vicious than anything I’d ever experienced before, really.
Well, enough of that. I’ve appreciated the chance to give this aid and possibly coming to an understanding of what’s happened.
Recorded statement of William Resch conducted by the CKSUV. A graduate student in physics department at the time of the shootings, Resch discusses the ROTC annex building fire and other incidents on Saturday and Sunday nights before the shootings, in addition to comments about the day of shootings.
Kent State University
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Commissions, Hearings, Tribunals
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May 4 Collection