Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12.10.14 Hero of the Day: James Niggemeyer

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Name: James Niggemeyer
Age: 41
Occupation: former police officer
Last Seen: Columbus, OH
Awarded For: being a friend to rock 'n roll
When I gave the Hero of the Day to both John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell on Monday, I should have shared the honor with the man who helped save the lives of 400 souls at the concert where the Damageplan guitarist died.

That man was James Niggemeyer, who killed the lunatic that killed the legendary Pantera guitarist.

That evening on December 8th, 2004, Niggemeyer was just doing his normal duties as a police officer, when he got the call that a man had opened fire at the Allrosa Villa in Columbus. He arrived at the concert venue 10 minutes later. While most of his fellow officers entered the front of the Allrosa later on, Niggemeyer went through the back door and shot the perpetrator, Nathan Gale to death while he was in a struggle with Vinnie Paul's drum tech. Gale used a 9mm Beretta that his mother gave him as a gift for his service as a Marine. However, he developed serious mental problems and started to believe in untrue things such as his claim that Pantera ripped off his songs.

Many consider Niggemeyer a hero for selflessly killing Nathan Gale, but despite the sick and twisted things that he did, Gale was still a human being. Because of that evening, James was forced to be reassigned as a detective three years after the shooting because he had developed post traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety. In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, he said “I found out real quickly that you don’t have any control over your brain, it’s going to do what it’s going to do. Cops are regular human beings. Things affect us the same way they affect everyday citizens. We relive it and have to deal with the aftermath.”

Niggemeyer remains as an employee to the city of Columbus, but not as a cop. Despite being a hero, he claims that murdering Nathan Gale certainly did not help his career one bit. Because of the events of ten years ago, James is still in counseling.

However, James has made some good friends, including Rick Cautela, the owner of the Allrosa Villa where Dimebag was killed. Despite losing some respect from the rock community for allowing Gale in, the Allrosa is still going strong, hosting five concerts per month. The club even celebrated its 40th year in business. A month after the horrific incident, Cautela invited Niggemeyer on stage to a huge amount of applause as the club reopened. He's also made good friends with Andy Halk, whose brother was killed by Gale during the concert. The two are in a fantasy football league and occasionally come to the club to see a concert.

When James Niggemeyer walked through the back door of the Allrosa Villa that fateful night, he didn't know if he would come out alive. He did, but he was a changed man. There's many cops who worked on the beat for decades and never once did they had to fire their weapon. James had to, but in the end, he saved the lives of 400 people, and because of that, the rock music community owes people like him a great big debt.

I don't think many of us will know James personally, but think of this: today, many people on the police force will not survive the day. They will be shot to death, killed in a fire or lose their life in an auto accident. But, who knows? Many of those cops will be heroes, too, for using their lives to help others.

Personally, if you're in line at a fast food place and you see a cop ordering food, I think it'll be a good idea to pay for his meal. These people risk their lives to help others and without them, this world will be out of order. So, give these people a hand, will ya?

And if you're reading this, James, thank you.

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