A new police report details a chaotic scene at last December’s Damageplan concert in Columbus, Ohio, with the tour manager being wounded as he tried to prevent a gunman from climbing on stage — he then was helped to the side where he watched former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott get shot in the head three times.
At the concert, 25-year-old Nathan Gale killed four people, including Abbott, before he was shot dead by a Columbus policeman. Nearly 300 witness interviews, released yesterday (Oct. 20) in a 627-page report, showed people were confused about the sequence of the shootings at the Alrosa Villa nightclub.
Witnesses said Gale snuck into the concert without a ticket before opening fire with his 9mm handgun. Christopher Paluska, Damageplan’s tour manager, said he was shot first, though it was previously believed Abbott was the initial victim.
Paluska was one of three people shot who survived. Another, stage technician John Brooks, wrestled with Gale, who pinned him as a hostage as police moved toward the stage.
Officer James Niggemeyer then killed Gale with one shotgun blast while he was holding Brooks hostage. Brooks told investigators although he didn’t hear Niggemeyer fire at Gale, he felt Gale’s grip weaken and hurried off the stage.
A grand jury cleared Niggemeyer, 31, of any wrongdoing in May. Gale still had 35 bullets left when he was killed, investigators said.
During the melee, Damageplan drummer Vincent Abbott hid behind amplifiers and lead singer Patrick Lachman jumped and screamed into the microphone for someone to call the police.
Gale’s mother has said her son was obsessed with Pantera and believed the band had stolen song lyrics from him.
He previously told both his mother and a former employer that he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic before he was discharged from the Marines in October 2003, two years into a four-year stint. Military records do not mention mental illness as the reason for the discharge.
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