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Trigger of Kent State shootings is at heart of lawsuit seeking FBI documents

Trigger of Kent State shootings is at heart of lawsuit seeking FBI documents

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Forty-six years later, Laurel Krause is still asking questions, still probing into why her sister, a 19-year-old honor student at Kent State, was shot and killed by National Guardsmen.

Now, she has an ally here in Buffalo.

Michael Kuzma, a local lawyer, filed a federal court lawsuit this week seeking the release of FBI documents related to the Kent State shooting and the people, known and unknown, behind it.

Krause is hoping the Freedom of Information suit, the latest in a series by Kuzma, will once and for all answer her questions about what happened to her sister Allison on that May day in 1970, a day that still symbolizes the country’s deep divisions over the Vietnam War.

“My sister never had the full life the rest of us had,” said Krause, who was a young girl at the time she died. “What did she do to deserve this?”

The suit, filed on the anniversary of the bloodshed, seeks documents related to former FBI informant Terry Norman, the Kent State student who was carrying a pistol that day.

While Norman’s role in the shooting has been debated for decades, the victim’s families believe he provoked the attack, intentionally or unintentionally, by firing four initial shots. Now 67 and living in North Carolina, Norman has declined to comment over the years.

The FBI has already released a significant amount of documents regarding the campus shooting, but Kuzma insists there may be more that needs to be unearthed. He thinks Norman, whom the FBI has acknowledged was an informant, is the key to filling in the gaps.

“Why did he have a gun?” Kuzma asked. “We want to know to what extent the FBI controlled his actions that day.”

Allison Krause and three others – Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder – died when guardsmen fired 67 rounds into a crowd of anti-war protestors and onlookers. Nine others were injured.

The shootings shocked the nation and led almost immediately to a nationwide student strike on college campuses. Even more important, they fueled public opinion against the war and, in the eyes of many, came to signify the nation’s divisiveness over Vietnam.

Krause, as a member of the Kent State Truth Tribunal, a group seeking a public inquiry into the shootings, is continuing her mother’s and father’s quest for more information. She hopes Kuzma’s lawsuit will finally answer their questions about what really took place at Kent State.

“How come we don’t know these things?” she asked.

The FBI, citing privacy concerns, refused Kuzma’s initial request for more documents, and Kuzma followed up by filing his civil suit this week. Buffalo lawyer Daire Brian Irwin is representing Kuzma.

The FBI declined to comment on the suit.


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