John Filo

John Filo is an American photojournalist who is famous for taking the 1970 Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a 14-year-old runaway girl, Mary Ann Vecchio, crying while kneeling over the body of 20-year-old Jeffery Miller, on of the victims of the Kent State shootings. At the time that the photograph was taken, Filo was a photojournalism student at Kent State University and was also on staff of a satellite paper for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The bullets were supposed to be blanks. When I put the camera back to my eye, I noticed a particular guardsman pointing at me. I said, “I’ll get a picture of this,” and his rifle went off. And almost simultaneously, as his rifle went off, a halo of dust came off a sculpture next to me, and the bullet lodged in a tree. I dropped my camera in the realization that it was live ammunition. I don’t know what gave me the combination of innocence and stupidity…I started to flee–run down the hill and stopped myself. “Where are you going?” I said to myself, “This is why you are here!” And I started to take pictures again…I knew I was running out of film. I could see the emotion welling up inside of her. She began to sob. And it culminated in her saying an exclamation. I can’t remember what she said exactly…something like, “Oh, my God!”

Eventually, Filo went to work with the Associated Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Evening Sun, and Newsweek. He now works in the communications department of CBS.


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