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Colonel May Break Kent State Case

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Colonel May Break Kent State Case

  A colonel in the Ohio National Guard at Kent State four years ago says he has read confidential National Guard statements indicating guardsmen were issued the direct order to fire.

   Colonel Charles Fassinger, in a sworn statement made public in Toledo, states the order to fire was issued by a Sergeant Matthew McManus.

   Colonel Fassinger said that in confidential statements given National Guard leaders after the tragedy, Sergeant McManus admitted to issuing the fire order. Those written statements by McManus and others have since been sealed on orders of a federal court.

  When McManus was asked about Colonel Fassinger's account by attorneys representing the families of the slain and wounded students, he took the fifth amendment.

   Colonel Fassinger said his understanding was that McManus instructed guardsmen to fire over the heads of student protesters. His report is the first official account of any order to fire weapons being given to National Guard troops on May 4, 1970.

   Eight guardsmen are scheduled to go on trial later this month in Cleveland in connection with the campus shootings that left four students dead.

   In addition to that criminal trial, the families of the dead and wounded students have filed a multi-million dollar civil damage suit against the National Guard and Ohio state officials. That suit is expected to go to court sometime next year.