Officer Who Killed Ohio Gunman Was Trained to Go For Shooter


The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The officer who stopped a nightclub rampage by killing the gunman had been trained to head straight for the shooter in such a situation to save lives.

James D. Niggemeyer, answering 911 calls about shots fired, went through a door behind the Alrosa Village stage and, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, approached the gunman, Nathan Gale. The officer killed Gale with a shot to the face, according to Franklin County Coroner Brad Lewis.

His action reflected departmental training called Quick Action Deployment. Lt. Dave Wood, head of the SWAT Division and a police trainer, said he refers to the point when an officer moves to stop the killing as "hiding behind your bullets."

Each situation will dictate how officers proceed, said Steve Martin, chief deputy of the Franklin County sheriff's office. But the basic rule is, "if there's shooting, you go in with the available resources and confront the violence."

Police had received panicked calls Wednesday night that a man was onstage shooting members of the band Damageplan. Gale killed guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, band bodyguard Jeff Thompson, club employee Erin Halk and concertgoer Nathan Bray.

As Niggemeyer approached from the rear, other officers came in from the front.

Sgt. Jeff Leesburg, who oversees a precinct third shift, praised the officers for a "magnificent team effort" in "getting in there (and) putting themselves between civilians and harm's way."

When officers arrived, Gale "had a hostage in a headlock. And his eyes glazed as he saw the white shirts and the white hats moving toward him," Leesburg said.

These officers, armed with handguns, didn't have a clear shot because concertgoers were all around.

"People were yelling, `There he is! Shoot him!"' Leesburg said. "But civilians were in the way.

"It took a lot of discipline to hold your fire until you have a perfect shot. When you're in that situation, you're not supposed to think about it. That's when the training is supposed to take over."

Niggemeyer, 31, hasn't spoken publicly while he undergoes the internal investigation prompted by any officer's use of force.

One shooting drill used in police training involves firing at a man who runs between civilians. Officers have to hit him three times, Leesburg said.

Looking for cover is not part of the program. "The training is to go directly to the bad guy and stop him from killing people," Wood said. "You have bullets, you have a bulletproof vest and you have a guy killing people."

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