Published December 10, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The cop who shot and killed a gunman on a rampage in a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub Wednesday night was being hailed on Thursday as a hero.
"We were fortunate that we had an officer that was very close that more than likely prevented numerous deaths inside," Sgt. Brent Mull of the Columbus Police Department (search) said of Officer James D. Niggemeyer.
"I think the community has a hero here."
Niggemeyer, 31, was patrolling only a couple of blocks away from the Alrosa Villa club Wednesday night when he got the call about a shooting at the heavy metal concert.
He got there in just two minutes and entered alone through a door at the back of the facility.
The gunman, 25-year-old Nathan Gale, had already shot and killed four people — including guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott (search) — and had a hostage in a headlock when the cop approached him.
Somehow, Niggemeyer — a five-year veteran of the force — managed to shoot and kill Gale without injuring the hostage.
"The officer was able to strategically gun this guy down before he was able to kill his hostage," Mull told reporters. "It appeared that he was about to kill this hostage when the officer basically put an end to it.
"Again, I can't say enough [about] his abilities, his skills."
Normal protocol has officers going into a dangerous situation like the one at the club only with backup from other police. But Niggemeyer didn't hesitate to brave it alone.
"The officer ran in without any backup, from what I'm being told at this time, and obviously put himself at risk with everybody else," Mull said. "If the officer wasn't as close as he was, I think this would have been a lot worse. It was a chaotic scene, just a horrific scene."
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.