Survivors recall terrifying moments that unfolded during Alrosa Villa shooting

Nathan Gale rushes on stage and fires his weapon at "Dimebag" Darrell
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When a man entered a North Columbus nightclub in 2004 and began shooting, it took a Columbus police officer to stop the killer on a rampage.

The gunman, Nathan Gale, opened fire during a heavy metal concert at Alrosa Villa nearly 12 years ago.

What followed would haunt those who survived and those who lost loved ones.

December 8, 2004: Nearly two minutes after Damageplan began to play; the first of multiple 911 calls came in.

“I'm at the Alrosa bar - there's been gunfire. People are running out of the building. We need help as soon as possible.”

It was pandemonium inside the venue located on Sinclair Road.

The terrifying moments still resonate among those who were there more than a decade later.

Documents: Alrosa Villa survivor statements

Inside The Scene

10TV obtained the band’s video which captured the terrifying ordeal unfolding on the concert stage. It was only a matter of minutes from the time Gale began shooting until the time he was killed.

Witnesses said they heard Gale fire as many as 20 rounds from his 9mm Lugar Beretta handgun. Police say the exact number was 15.

When it was over, five people including the gunman were dead. Three others were wounded. One of the victims was Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

PHOTOS: 2004 Alrosa Villa shooting

WARNING: Images below contain photos of the crime scene taken by police the night of the shooting, as well as security footage from inside Alrosa Villa.Viewer discretion advised.

Who Was Nathan Gale

Gale was a former Marine who was discharged in 2003 after his mother said he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. It was his mother who bought him the gun.

Inside his apartment police took photos of handwritten notes with the words: "You'll see come alive. I'll take your life and make it mine. This is my life I'm gone. Git me.”

The other, "You'll see the sky fall. I'll makes Pig fly. Come on and give me some, Come on give me some. Do it and Die, Do it and Die"

Prior to the shooting, Gale was seen by security guards several times. They asked him to move his car.

He looked strange they said because he was pacing outside the club, Gale didn't have a ticket so he scaled the back fence near the club’s main entrance.

Cautela said someone went to get food and when the backdoor opened, Gale slipped in. He said as Gale made his way towards the stage, as security followed behind.

“They were chasing him because they thought he sneaking in, they didn't know he was going to shoot the place up,” he said.

Inside The Mind Of A Killer

The Victims

“When people die like this, you try to figure out why. And that was the biggest question, why?” Andy Halk, whose brother Erin was killed, said.

Erin worked security for club owner Rick Cautela.

“He didn't want any more people dying. He charged Nathan Gale, the scumbag,” Cautela said.

Cautela recalled how Erin died trying to save others. He said Erin grabbed a stage speaker and charged right at Gale but the bullets went through it.

Andy said Erin's death has forever changed the Halk family.

“Now that your Christmas has a hole in it, [it] takes something away from that", he said.

He said the massacre inside the recent Orlando night club dredges up memories he's tried to forget.

“It’s gut wrenching to have to rethink all of that,” he said.

Andy said he holds on to the belief that those in Orlando did the same as his brother while that gunman took aim at the crowd.

“I'm sure there were heroes in Orlando that we'll never know about because they were probably taken down. So, you try to keep that hope that people did try to stop the killer,” he said.

Cautela still remembers Nathan Bray, a concertgoer, rushing the stage to help.

“A customer ran up on stage and said ‘what the heck are you doing? Why are you shooting the band?’ And he was killed right there,” he said.

Bray was 23-years old.

Cautela also remembers seeing band security guard Jeff Thompson trying to stop Gale.

“There was a guy behind him that was the security guard for the band. He tackled the killer and the killer starts shooting him from underneath,” he said.

Thompson was 40-years old.

10th Anniversary of Alrosa Villa deadly shooting

The Hidden Room
During the shooting, Cautela said he took people into a room fortified with two metal doors.

“This is the place where I took Dimebag's brother Vinnie Abbott and covered him up with a blanket,” he said. “That night, although I had a gun, I didn't know who to go after. My job that night was to grab members of the band and bring them into a safe place.”

He said 35 people were kept safe inside this room.

“More people were trying to get in there, but I didn't know if it was the shooter we couldn't open the door,” he said.



The Man Who Put A Stop To The Killings

Former Columbus Police officer Jim Niggemeyer quietly entered the club only to see Gale waving a gun with a hostage in a headlock.

“When I pulled my cruiser out there were three or four people yelling come to the back door,” Niggemeyer said.

Niggemeyer said he was about 20 feet away when he fired.

The force of the Niggemeyer’s blast knocked Gale, who stood 6'5 and 268 pounds, into the dressing room three feet away from his location on the stage.

Somehow, the hostage escaped without a scratch.

“That was the first question that I asked afterwards to the officer ‘is the hostage ok?’” he said.

Niggemeyer said it was all very difficult to decompress. He said he didn’t sleep for two weeks.

“Absolutely it still lingers,” he said. “For me, 12 years later I still see a psychologist. I still take my medication which helps out a lot.”

Niggemeyer said he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among other things.

He said the department forced him to retire because his condition disqualified him as a first responder. What he saw still haunts him.

“You don't have control of your brain. I am living proof that you have no control the nightmares and flashbacks and all the stuff that happens you can't shut it off,” he said.

Niggemeyer's actions saved countless lives.

“I have come to realize had we not reacted as fast as we had there would have been more casualties and the hostage for sure would not have made it,” he said.

Officer who stopped Alrosa Villa shooting hopes bill will pass to help first responders who suffer from PTSD

The Aftermath

On the one-year anniversary of the shootings, members of the band sued the club, claiming there was inadequate security.

“They settled for a minimal amount, like $6,000 each,” Cautela said.

Police determined the motive behind the shooting was likely that Gale was a deranged man who believed the band was stealing his songs and he wanted revenge.

Cautela says to this day, few heavy metal bands return to his club, but it's not out of fear.

“The bands from out of town would not play here out of respect,” he said.

Cautela said he'll likely close within the year, shuttering the longest continuously family owned nightclub in the country, one named after his father Al and mother Rosa.

A friend urged him to change, but he refused.

“It's going to be Alrosa until it goes down,” he said.

Memorial Funds

Erin Halk Memorial Fund

St. Agatha School Fund

1880 Northam Road

Columbus, Ohio 43221

Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund

110 SW Thomas

Burleson,TX 70028