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Nathan M. Gale (September 11, 1979 – December 8, 2004) murdered former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott and three others (injuring 7 more) during a Damageplan concert at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio, on December 8, 2004. He was then killed by Officer James D. Niggemeyer.

Life

Nathan M. Gale was born in Calumet City, Illinois, and raised solely by his mother.[1] Nathan Gale relocated to Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1983. Beginning at the age of twelve, he was arrested on numerous occasions for shoplifting, domestic violence, vandalism, public obscenity, and drug possession.[1] His probation officer noted that Gale was introverted and only acted out for the attention he did not receive from his overworked mother and his absentee father.[1]

Gale was introduced to Pantera in the tenth grade by a school friend, and became obsessed with their 1992 album Vulgar Display Of Power. At 16, he began telling classmates the band members of Pantera regularly visited him at their high school.[1] His classmates worried for his sanity when it became clear that he seriously believed that the band was visiting him, and a fellow pupil informed the high school staff who notified his mother. She confronted Gale about it, telling him a famous heavy metal band like Pantera would not be coming to a small Ohio town to visit a teenager, and he did not mention it again.[1]

After graduating from high school in June 1997, Gale was unemployed and continued living with his mother. In December, she awoke early in the morning to find her son pacing the living room, claiming people were videotaping him through their windows, which she believed was a delusion brought on by his constant use of psychedelic drugs.[1] Weeks later during an altercation regarding Gale's drug use, he violently pushed her against a wall inside the house. She called 9-1-1 in order for police to remove him from the house, however she declined to press charges.[1] She informed him that he was barred from visiting her until he received drug and psychiatric counseling, however he refused to comply. She claimed to have found him repeatedly sleeping on her porch, and told him to remain away from her property until he received professional help for his drug use.[1]

For the following two years, Gale was often homeless. He survived by working minimum wage professions, panhandling and stealing.[1] In 1998, he was arrested when police found him sleeping on public property at night, and later for attempting to steal an automobile while in the vicinity of a gas station.[1] In 1999, Gale relocated to Bellefontaine to live with childhood friends. His friends asked him to leave when they discovered his drug abuse, and Gale returned to Marysville. In 2000, Gale contacted his mother and agreed to receive treatment if he could return to living at her home.[1] While residing with his mother, he frequently experienced night terrors and paced around his bedroom in late hours of the night. He also still believed that he was being spied on, and complained of hearing disturbing voices.[1] Gale was unable to hold employment with his volatile behavior, and he decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[1]

According to Gale's mother, he received a medical discharge from the Marine Corps in September 2003, due to his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.[2] The discharge occurred only two years into his four year enlistment.[3]

Shootings at the Alrosa Villa club

On December 8, 2004, Gale engaged in a heated exchange over tattoo equipment that he wanted to purchase at a tattoo parlor that he frequented. An artist there told Gale that "you had to be an artist" to buy such equipment, and that they "didn't sell that equipment," at which point Gale threw down his magazine and said, "Bullsh*t, man!". Gale called the artist a liar and then left the parlor.[4]

Gale later made his way into the Alrosa Villa club from a back door entrance, and the shootings began after Damageplan started performing. Minutes into the band's set, Abbott's bodyguard exited the stage, at which moment Gale ran onto the stage from the wing and began shooting Abbott, killing him instantly with 3 shots, before directing towards the crowd. [5]

Gale then began shooting at other people nearby:

  • Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, the band's head of security, was killed while engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Gale after chasing him onto the stage as he shot Abbott.
  • Erin Halk, an Alrosa Villa employee, attempted to charge Gale when he ran out of bullets. However, Gale was able to reload faster than anticipated and killed Halk.
  • Nathan Bray, an audience member, attempted to perform CPR on Abbott and Thompson but was shot and killed by Gale.
  • Damageplan's drum technician, John "Kat" Brooks, was shot several times (once in the right hand, his right leg and his right side) while attempting to get the gun away from Gale and was taken hostage, but ultimately survived.
  • Damageplan tour manager Chris Paluska was injured but also survived.

Five police officers came in the front entrance led by officer Rick Crum, and moved toward the stage as Gale used Brooks as a human shield. Officer James D. Niggemeyer came in through the back door, situated behind the stage. Gale saw only the officers in front of the stage; he never saw Officer Niggemeyer entering through the back. When Brooks moved his head into a position that opened a clear line of sight, Officer Niggemeyer killed Gale by shooting him in the face with a police-issued 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun. Gale was found to have 35 rounds of ammunition remaining. Nurse and audience member Mindy Reece, 28, went to the aid of Abbott. She and another fan administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived; however, they were unable to revive him.[2][2] [6][7][8]

The gun Gale used was a Beretta 92F 9mm semi-automatic pistol. His mother bought it for him (before he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic) because she was proud of his military service.[2]

Alleged motives

Theories of motive suggested that Gale may have turned to violence in response to the breakup of Pantera, or the public dispute between Abbott and the Pantera singer Phil Anselmo. According to his friends, Gale thought Pantera was "trying to steal his identity."[2] One friend recounts a story in which Gale arrived at a band practice with lyrics he claimed to have written, though these lyrics were clearly Pantera lyrics.[3] All of these theories were later ruled out by investigators. In the book A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa, several of Gale's personal writings, given to the author by Gale's mother, suggest that the gunman was not angry about Pantera's breakup or about a belief that Pantera had "stolen songs"; instead, the documents suggest that Gale's paranoid schizophrenia caused delusions that the band could read his mind, and that they were "stealing" his thoughts and laughing at him.

A few months before his fatal attack, on April 5, 2004, Gale engaged in a fight with security guards onstage during a Damageplan concert in Cincinnati, Ohio, causing about $1,800 in damages.[9]

References

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