The picture “Kent State Massacre” was taken on May 4, 1970 by John Filo. Filo’s picture shows Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14 year old girl, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller.
The Kent State Massacre refers to the incident at Kent State University where members of the Ohio National Guard fired on students after an antiwar rally. The students had gathered for three nights before the shootings to protest the spread of the war into Cambodia. The Saturday before, the ROTC building was burned down, at which point the Ohio National Guard was called in. The morning of the shootings, the students had gathered in the Commons area, and they were dispersed using tear gas. The students left and went up the hill toward another campus building. The National Guard began to retreat, at which point the students threw rocks and yelled insults at the Guard, who in turn began shooting at the students. The Ohio National Guard claimed that they only began shooting after a sniper fired at them, although students and reporters denied that there was any sniper. Four students were killed and 10 others were wounded in the shootings.
Filo was a senior photo-journalism student at KSU at the time of the shootings. In an interview the next day, he described his experience during the shootings. He thought they would be firing blanks, but realized that the shots were real when other students began to run for cover or were hit by the bullets. He says “I especially noticed a student lying on the street face down, a pool of blood forming around his head”. He also described the moments before the shootings took place. When the Guardsmen chased the students up the hill and the students began throwing rocks, Filo said “it seemed almost humorous to see a stone about the size of a golf ball bounce off a guardsman’s helmet” and he described the guardsmen themselves as “almost grotesque” in their gas masks.