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Concert Killer Described as Obsessed

By Anita Chang
Associated Press
Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page A07

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 10 -- The man who fatally shot former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and three other men at a nightclub was obsessed with the heavy-metal band and made bizarre accusations against the group, a one-time friend said.

Nathan Gale apparently believed Pantera musicians were trying to steal his identity and the lyrics to songs he had written, former friend Jeramie Brey told the Columbus Dispatch in Friday's editions.

Gale, 25, charged the stage Wednesday at a show by Abbott's new band, Damageplan, and gunned down four people, including Abbott, before a police officer shot Gale to death. Two others were wounded.

Investigators said they may never know Gale's motive. Some witnesses said he yelled accusations that Abbott broke up Pantera, but police had not verified those reports.

Brey and former friend Dave Johnson said they had become frightened by Gale's behavior and distanced themselves several years ago. By that time, Johnson said, Gale had begun talking and laughing to himself and once appeared to be holding an imaginary dog.

"He used to be Pantera's number one fan and has liked them for as long as I've known him," Johnson told the newspaper. "After a while something happened. He just kind of snapped. He went from being a cool guy to being a guy you didn't want to be around."

Brey recalled that Gale once showed up at his house with some songs he had written, but the words appeared to be copied from Pantera. Gale told Brey he planned to sue Pantera over the lyrics and for stealing his identity.

Gale had had minor run-ins with police but wasn't considered a troublemaker, authorities said.

He served with the Marines in North Carolina until November 2003, when he was discharged after less than half of the typical four-year stint, said Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Scarber, a Marine spokeswoman. She declined to explain the discharge, citing privacy rules.

Gale's mother, Mary Clark, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The violence at the Alrosa Villa club came just after the opening chords by Damageplan, the band formed by Abbott and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, after they left Pantera. Gale jumped on the stage, grabbed Darrell Abbott and shot him at least five times in the head, witnesses and police said. In less than five minutes, Gale also killed Erin Halk, 29, a club employee who loaded band equipment; fan Nathan Bray, 23; and band bodyguard Jeff Thompson, 40.

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