First, information has started to come in on Nathan Gale, the killer of Dimebag Darrell Abbott and three others in Columbus Wednesday night. The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
- When he heard on the radio that Gale was killed, following a murderous rampage in which he shot and killed four others, Daniel “Bo” Toler just kept repeating: “No way, no way.”
Toler, who works at the Bears Den Tattoo Shop across the street from the killer’s apartment in Marysville, said Gale never showed any interest in heavy-metal music but rather always talked about foot ball, boxing and tattoo art.
….Mark Green, a coach on the summer-only Lima Thunder football team for whom Gale played linebacker, told the Associated Press that Gale listened to Pantera through headphones to get excited before a game.
“You wouldn’t look at him and think he was capable of doing something like this,” said Green. “It wasn’t like he was a loner.”
….But others in this small Ohio town of 12,000 said Gale was a troubled, solitary man.
Gale was an imposing figure, 6 feet 3 and 266 pounds. He cut his red hair short, wore thick glasses and seemed to always wear a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey jersey – the shirt he died in.
….Gale was a 1998 graduate of Ohio Hi Point Joint Vocational School District in Bellefontaine and a member of Fraternal Order of the Eagles lodge in Marysville, where his mother, Mary Clark, is a waitress. He always came in alone and talked to only a few people, said Charlie Modena, a member of the lodge.
….”He seemed like an easy-going guy,” said Emi Walden, a waitress. “There was something odd about him, but nothing that would make you fear him.”
Gale would talk to Walden about the Marines because her husband had been in the corps. Gale, a former Marine, served from February 2002 until November 2003, when he was discharged early.
A Marine spokesman said the only way a person could be discharged before his enlistment ends would be for discipline problems or for a psychological or medical discharge. Walden and other employees noticed that Gale would frequently join in other people’s conversations, but never start one. He would also always ask other people for cigarettes and not smoke his own, as if looking for an excuse to interact with them.
Hmm, oddish, big lonely guy, discharged early from the Marines, dug Pantera – not the profile of a psycho killer, but they very rarely are.
But in an AP report today things get stranger:
- The man who shot former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and three other men to death at a nightclub was obsessed with the heavy metal band and made bizarre accusations against the group, a one-time friend said.
Nathan Gale apparently believed Pantera musicians were trying to steal his identity and the lyrics to songs he had written, former friend Jeramie Brey told The Columbus Dispatch in Friday’s editions.
….Brey and former friend Dave Johnson said they had become frightened by Gale’s behavior and distanced themselves from him several years ago. By that time, Johnson said, Gale had begun talking and laughing to himself and once appeared to be holding an imaginary dog.
“He used to be Pantera’s No. 1 fan and has liked them for as long as I’ve known him,” Johnson told the newspaper. “After a while something happened. He just kind of snapped. He went from being a cool guy to being a guy you didn’t want to be around.”
Johnson said he met Gale, known as Nate, in the late 1990s through a mutual friend in their hometown of Marysville, about 25 miles northwest of Columbus. They shared a love of rock music, held jam sessions and attended concerts together.
Brey recalled that Gale once showed up at his house with some songs he had written, but the words appeared to be copied from Pantera. Gale told Brey he planned to sue Pantera over the lyrics and for stealing his identity.
That sounds a lot more like a psycho killer, but short of Minority Report-type “precrime” measures, how do you predict such things?
More on the shooting:
- Gale dodged two band members, grabbed Darrell Abbott and shot him at least five times in the head.
“He grabbed Dimebag with one hand and shot him with the other,” said Kevin Minerd, among the 500 people packed into the smoke-filled nightclub to see Abbott’s new band.
In less than five minutes, Gale had shot three others, including Erin Halk, 29, a club employee who loaded band equipment; fan Nathan Bray, 23, of nearby Grove City; and Jeff Thompson, 40, a bodyguard for the band.
“I watched the one guy go down, I jumped on stage started giving the other guy CPR,” William Weaver, who was in the audience, told CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.
Two people employed by the band, Chris Paluska and John Brooks, were in Riverside Hospital on Friday morning with Paluska listed in good condition and Brooks in serious condition.
….Despite a drizzle and temperatures in the 40s, more than 200 people turned up for a vigil Thursday night in the club’s parking lot.
Shawn Sweeney, 22, played “old-school Pantera” on an acoustic guitar and a half-dozen young men held a blue tarp over his head and sang along.
“This is beautiful, this is absolutely beautiful,” Sweeney said, referring to the growing crowd.
- At one point, a naked young man stood in the middle of the street, arms raised, repeatedly cursing Gale. The crowd cheered boisterously, and the man took off in a full sprint across the parking lot as four police officers gave chase.
He was soon tackled and a man in the crowd yelled out, “We got your bond, dude!” as the streaker was led off in handcuffs.
In addition to the reactions from the metal community in our original story on the tragedy here, today many others including Ozzy Osbourne and members of Damageplan and Pantera responded with their thoughts:
- Black Sabbath frontman Osbourne, who often toured with the 38-year-old, said: “I’m absolutely beside myself with grief.
“I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would do this.”
….Drowning Pool cancelled its tour as a mark of respect.
“No one knows why some people do the heinous things they do,” the band said in a statement.
“Dimebag Darrell was the epitome of rock and roll. He wasn’t just a player that all guitarists aspired to be, but the genuine article and a true friend.”
Chimaira lead singer Mark Hunter said Abbott “changed the way metal music was written with his guitar playing”.
“I don’t know anybody in a band who hasn’t stolen a few guitar riffs from him,” he added. [BBC]
Damageplan made the following statements today:
“With all his greatness and accomplishments on the guitar, DIME will be missed more for his giving personality, charisma, caring for others, love and most of all his HEART!! Twice as big as the state of TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!!! DIME gave it all everyday to each and every one of us and our lives have forever been hollowed without him … Thanks to all of you for reaching out to us in this time of our immeasurable loss. REST IN PEACE BROTHER DIME!!!!!!”
– Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul, brother of Dimebag Darrell
“Jeffrey “Mayhem” Thompson was not just a true part of the Damageplan family, but part of the whole Dallas music scene. He was friend to all, with a great personality. He bent over backward to help us all with his trademark phrases like “What can I do for you sir?” and “Coming up!” He also stated his willingness to protect us, saying “I’d take a bullet for ya,” and unfortunately did in defense of our lives. He truly lived and died for his friends and made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life to save ours. For this we will never forget. You will be missed big man.”
– the Damageplan family
Atlantic Records issued the following statement:
“We are shocked and saddened by these horrible and senseless shootings. This is a tragic event for the music community, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the surviving members of Damageplan and their crew. Dimebag Darrell was an exceptional musician and an extraordinary person. Along with his brother and bandmate, Vinnie Paul, he was a member of the Elektra/Atlantic family for the past 14 years, and he will be deeply missed. The bravery displayed by Damageplan, their crew, their fans, and the local police will never be forgotten.”