The onstage slaying of Damageplan’s Dimebag Darrell Abbott was not motivated by the break-up of the guitarist’s former band Pantera, investigators have said.
After months looking into the case and 287 eyewitness interviews, investigators have also ruled out the theory that the killing was over a public dispute between Dimebag and Pantera singer Phil Anselmo.
Nathan Gale killed Dimebag and four other gig goers onstage during a Damageplan gig at the Alrosa Villa club in Ohio on December 8, 2004 before he was shot dead by police officer James Niggemeyer.
As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, who obtained a 627-page investigative file on the case, a document written by Detective William Gillette said: “There is no evidence leading detectives to believe Nathan Gale was communicating with Phil Anselmo or any other individual … in an effort to hurt Dimebag Darrell Abbott.”
Police searched Gale’s apartment in the wake of the shooting and found no “computers or magazines or compact discs” connected with either Damageplan or Pantera, according to the documents.
A Damageplan CD however, was found in the stereo in Gale’s Pontiac Gale Am, which he drove to the gig.
The eyewitness accounts reveal more about the events of the evening, before Niggemeyer intervened.
Damageplan’s tour manager told police that he was shot first trying to prevent Gale from getting on to the stage, despite some witnesses claiming that the gunman produced the weapon and targeted Dimebag first.
The police documents state: “Mr Paluska related he grabbed the guy and this individual turned around and shot him. After doing this, Paluska ran to the side of the stage, where someone helped him lie down and he watched as Dimebag Darrell Abbott… got shot by the shooter.”
John Brooks, a stage technician, was another of the three people who survived being shot and told police that Gale made a beeline for Dimebag and shot him before turning on the group’s head of security, Jeffrey ‘Mayhem’ Thompson, who was trying to help the guitarist. Thompson died from three gunshot wounds.
Brooks was later used as a hostage and shot three times during a struggle with Gale.
Gale reportedly pinned Brooks to the floor and the stage technician said that he could feel the gun pressed against head, while the attacker shouted “Don’t move, don’t move.”
Travis Burnett, the third survivor told investigators that he climbed onto the stage and challenged Gale. After attempting to put Gale in a “wristlock”, the gun was fired which nicked his left forearm.
Burnett fled and said he immediately “heard three more gunshots that he believed were aimed at his head”.
According to the reports, Gale scaled a wooden fence surrounding the venue’s outdoor patio and his intrusion was encouraged by several gig-goers, who eventually helped the gunman sneak inside.
Gale walked past a security guard who attempted to prevent him getting into the club without a ticket.