A videotape released Friday by authorities in Columbus, Ohio, provides a dramatic look at the December 8 nightclub rampage that left five people, including Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell, dead.
While the footage — captured by a stationary camera placed at the right rear corner of the stage — doesn't show gunman Nathan Gale shooting Abbott at the Alrosa Villa club that evening (see "Dimebag Darrell, Four Others Killed In Ohio Concert Shooting"), it does show the guitarist at the front of the stage at the start of the show, but then he backs up out of the camera's range.
The tape then shows Gale — both arms extended in front of him, hands clutching a Beretta 9 mm semiautomatic pistol — moving swiftly across the stage and then toward Abbott. A security guard is seen rushing up behind Gale from stage right. Just as he's about to throw his arms around the gunman, five shots are heard.
The band continues to play as the security guard rushes back toward the camera, holding his shoulder and wincing in pain from being shot. Confused, the crowd stands in silence as more security guards and stagehands rush to Abbott's rescue.
As shots continue to ring out, people run for cover. A man shouts over the microphone for someone to call 911. Another man at the front of the stage motions to the crowd to head for the exit, but some members of the audience ignore him and jump onstage to help. Five more shots are heard over the feedback that continues to reverberate from guitars left behind but still plugged into amplifiers.
"He's gotta run out of ammo by now," one person can be heard saying. "He f---ing killed Dimebag, dude."
"He reloaded, man," shouts another person.
"I know he did, dude. He reloaded. He reloaded. Get down dude, get down. No!"
Five minutes into the video, Gale has his arm wrapped around a hostage's neck, a gun to his head. By this point, Columbus police officer James Niggemeyer was inside the Alrosa, having entered through a rear door. His single fatal shotgun blast is heard. Though the shooting is not visible, the blast is enough to rattle the video camera and knock people onstage to the floor.
Other police are seen rushing in to assist. A voice says, "You're all witnesses. I had to do it." Then Niggemeyer emerges onstage, holding his shotgun, still seemingly dazed from the traumatic incident; though it is not clear if he was the one who made the remark. He's approached by fans and employees, who pat him on the back.
One person's heard telling him, "He already killed two of them. He had his gun to his head, you had to do it." Another reassures the officer, telling him, "You had no choice. He saved a man's life, probably five or six or more."
Niggemeyer was cleared last month by a grand jury of any wrongdoing in the shooting (see "Officer Cleared In Shooting Of 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott's Killer"). Before he was killed, Gale murdered Abbott and three others: Nathan Bray, a 23-year-old Damageplan fan; Alrosa employee Erin Halk, 29; and Jeff Thompson, 40, one of the band's bodyguards. Two other people were injured.
Click here for more on the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and the Ohio club shooting.