John Futty of The Columbus Dispatch has issued the following report:
Nathan Gale was dragged off the stage at a DAMAGEPLAN concert in Cincinnati eight months before killing the band's lead guitarist and three others at a concert in Columbus.
Yesterday (April 12), Columbus police confirmed that Gale caused a disturbance on stage at Bogart's nightclub on April 5, 2004.
According to reports filed by Cincinnati police, Gale damaged lighting equipment during a struggle with security while DAMAGEPLAN performed about 12:30 a.m.
Officers who responded to a 911 call filed a report labeling the offense as criminal damaging/endangering, but no charges were filed. The band didn't seek charges, police said.
The incident seemed of little significance until Dec. 8, when Gale stormed the stage at Alrosa Villa in Columbus and fatally shot DAMAGEPLAN guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott before turning his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun on those who tried to intervene. A fan, a club employee and the band's security chief were killed and three others wounded before a Columbus police officer ended the rampage by killing Gale with a shotgun blast.
The manager of Alrosa Villa said yesterday that he is upset that no one alerted him to the Cincinnati incident.
"It makes me furious that that happened in Cincinnati and continued on at Alrosa," Rick Cautela said.
Sgt. Jeff Sacksteder, of the Columbus police homicide squad, said investigators might never know whether the incident in Cincinnati was linked to the shootings in Columbus.
"That's been theorized," he said. "There may have been a bridge, but the other part of this is what (Gale) was going through mentally."
Gale, a 25-year-old Marysville resident, told his mother and a former employer that he was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic before being discharged from the Marines in 2003.
Shortly after the shootings in Columbus, rumors began circulating among fans and on heavy-metal-music Web sites about a man who had caused a disturbance during DAMAGEPLAN's performance at Bogart's.
"From the get-go, there was suspicion that it was the same guy," said a band technician who witnessed the Bogart's incident and spoke on the condition that his name not be used. Members of the Dallas-based band and its management haven't commented since the Alrosa Villa shootings.
Cincinnati police provided reports about the Bogart's incident to The Dispatch five weeks ago but have declined to release the suspect's name while reviewing a department policy against identifying uncharged suspects.
Sacksteder said Cincinnati police identified Gale as the suspect for investigators in Columbus.
Heavy-metal fans who attended both concerts found themselves thinking back to the Bogart's incident in the hours after the Alrosa Villa shootings.
"It was almost like in December, where some big guy came flying out on stage," said Roger Caron, of Westerville.
Excited fans are known to climb onstage during heavy-metal shows but usually soon plunge back into the mob of fans in the mosh pit in front of the stage.
Gale was intent on staying on the stage at Bogart's, witnesses said, and resisted attempts by guards to remove him. He grabbed a stack of amplifiers on the left side of the stage and knocked down lights as guards tried to pull him away, causing $1,800 worth of damage.
"He latched onto the equipment because he didn't want to leave," the band technician said.
The band never missed a beat.
"They just kept playing while they watched," Caron said.
It was unclear whether the intruder meant to harm anyone.
"Whatever he was planning to do, he didn't get a chance to do," said Billy Clark, of New Carlisle. "The whole time I saw him, he was being subdued."
After the man was removed from the club and the song had ended, witnesses said lead singer Patrick Lachman commented on the incident.
"He said something like, ‘I'd like to introduce you to the fifth member of the (expletive) band,' " Clark recalled.
Bogart's security confiscated Gale's driver's license and turned it over to Cincinnati police.
Officer Mark Longworth, who responded to the disturbance, doesn't remember the suspect but said the band declined to press charges.
"They were from out of town and didn't want to come back to Cincinnati for court," he recalled. "It wasn't a major deal, and the band wasn't too concerned. They just wanted him gone."
Witnesses to both incidents couldn't positively identify Gale as the man onstage at Bogart's but described him as large and strong.
Gale was a 6-foot-5, 268-pound semipro football player. He was discharged from the Marines in October 2003, less than two years into a four-year stint. Military records appear to link the discharge to a weight problem and do not mention mental illness.
Gale was a longtime fan of PANTERA, a group that Darrell Abbott formed with his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, in 1982. The group had a No. 1 album in 1994 that was nominated for a Grammy. After PANTERA broke up, the Abbotts formed DAMAGEPLAN.
Former acquaintances said Gale told them that PANTERA had stolen songs from him.
Sacksteder said that members of the division's critical incident response team are still compiling information about the actions of Officer James D. Niggemeyer, who fatally shot Gale at Alrosa Villa, for the Franklin County prosecutor's office.
Prosecutors present to a grand jury all cases of lethal use of force by police.
Sacksteder said the case is the most complicated ever investigated by the response team because of the number of victims and witnesses at Alrosa Villa, where up to 400 people attended the concert.
(Thanks: Shawn Cothern)