To the Cop Who Stopped Dimebag’s Killer

by Bill Brenner on December 9, 2014

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the murder of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Darrell Lance Abbott.

For metalheads like me, the loss of “Dimebag Darrell” was painful. But for James Niggemeyer, the cop who stopped shooter Nathan Gale before he could kill anyone else, life has been hell.

Mood music:

More people almost certainly would have died that night at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, where Damageplan was just beginning to play as the shooting started. Jeff “Mayhem” Thompson, the band’s head of security, was killed tackling Gale, as was Alrosa Villa employee Erin Halk. Audience member Nathan Bray was killed while trying to perform CPR on Abbott and Thompson.

Niggemeyer has been called a hero since firing the kill shot that ended Gale’s rampage, and he certainly deserved to be called that. But he hasn’t felt very heroic.

He told The Columbus Dispatch that he’s no longer a police officer. According to the article, he remained on patrol for three years after Dimebag’s murder, but the city eventually decided, with the advice of doctors, that he shouldn’t be a first responder. He was transferred to the robbery section as a detective. He told the paper:

I found out real quickly that you don’t have any control over your brain. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. Cops are regular human beings. Things affect us the same way they affect everyday citizens. We relive it and have to deal with the aftermath.

I was going to write an open letter to Niggemeyer, telling him how great I think he is. but I’m down and people try to buck me up by telling me how appreciated I am, it tends to make things worse. I appreciate the sentiment, but it usually leaves me wondering why people feel that way when I feel like such a mess.

And I don’t have PTSD. I suspect Niggemeyer feels that way times 10.

So I’ll end this post with a prayer for the former officer. I hope and pray he finds peace and a way forward and that he is able to appreciate his blessings more easily with the passage of time.

James Niggemeyer

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad Sturgill December 8, 2015 at 8:06 am

Well said Bill. As a Columbus native and Metal Head I know many that were impacted by this event that night. I also know that lives were saved in a greater and glorious way. Take for example the lead singer of This Fires Embrace. Aaron Benner was stage right when this horrific event took place. That event forever changed his life path and now he is saved and knows Jesus. Check out that band. So good and so awesome to find hope in a moment of tragedy.

Aragogando December 8, 2015 at 9:55 am

Amen, to often we forget that these are people too, and also victims.

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