Video: May 4 Witness, Tucson Shooting Victim Speaks at Kent State
by Megan Rozsa, kent.patch.com
May 5th 2011
As the world around him went gray, and people morphed into scrambling blobs, Randy Gardner remembered where he watched this scene unfold before.
Gardner spoke Wednesday at the 41st commemoration of the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University. Gardner witnessed the May 4 shootings, where four students — Sandra Scheuer, Bill Schroeder, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller — were killed and nine were wounded. He escaped unhurt.
Gardner became a victim 40 years later during the Jan. 8 shooting of Arizona Sen. Gabrielle Giffords.
His reason for coming to Kent State University to study was simple. He wanted to get away from home, and he didn't want to be in the Vietnam War.
"I remember finding myself running through that practice football field," Gardner said. "When the (Ohio) National Guard turned around in unison and began shooting, the disbelief, shock and horror ... We scrambled."
Gardner and his classmates learned what bullets can do to bodies that day, and he realized that the war had come home to Kent.
"How did I deal with it? Intelligence and maturity helps," Gardner said. "I know I carried around a low level of anger for many years. Sometime after my sophomore year, I felt more and more embittered and resentful to Kent State and Ohio."
Sometime after that, Gardner moved out to Oregon with his significant other, he said. He had always wanted to move out West, and his anger was a good enough reason to leave.
Soon after, he moved his family to Tucson, AZ. Forty years passed.
"I had heard that Gabrielle Giffords was going to be out at a supermarket and I wanted to see her," Gardner said Wednesday. "As I was walking up to get in line, she was walking up beside me and she nodded at me. She was beautiful and attractive."
Once in line, Gardner struck up an engaging conversation with an elderly woman. They lost track of the world around them.
"We weren't paying attention to the environment and then I heard a 'pop' and several more 'pop, pop, pops,'" Gardner said. "I remembered her asking what was going on and I told her 'we've got to get out of here.'"
An emotional Gardner recalled his state of panic and said his "vision collapsed and everything disappeared." He paused.
"People were falling and crying," he said, pausing again. "I turned around and got shot in the foot. I thought that if I tried to turn around to see what was going on, I would get shot. So I hunkered down and walked out of the area.
"Three people died in front of me. Three people died behind me," he said.
Suddenly, Gardner saw color again and he watched people scrambling to hide behind cars when he realized "I've seen this before."
Eventually, the bullets stopped flying and a Walgreens worker helped Gardner to safety. Today he walks with a barely noticeable limp.
"We tolerate violence in America to a point that is unacceptable," Gardner said. "We need to get off thinking we can't do anything about this. We can tighten laws."
After Tucson, one of the wounded victims of May 4 reached out to Gardner and helped him cope and reconcile his feelings toward Kent State.
"This is truly important that we remember," Gardner said of the May 4, 1970, shootings. "When death is caused by human design and accountability goes unanswered for decades, our heartache is just prolonged."
Other speakers at the commemoration included:Erin McKay, who gave a tribute to Sandra Scheuer; Jim Mueller, who gave a tribute to Bill Schroeder; Jennifer Schwartz-Wright, who gave a tribute to Allison Krause; William Whitaker, who gave a tribute to Jeffrey Miller; Stuart Allen talked about audio forensics; and Idris Kabir Syed, who gave a tribute to Gene Young.
Original Page: http://kent.patch.com/articles/video-may-4-witness-tuscon-shooting-victim-speaks-at-kent-state
Shared from Read It Later