Thirteen years after a gunman killed four people at a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub, including Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Darrell “Dimebag” Abbot, the police officer who entered the venue without backup and killed the crazed shooter says he is still in counseling and no longer a member of the local police department.
James Niggemeyer was widely hailed as a hero following the tragic episode, but now tells the Columbus Dispatch three years afterwards he was taken off patrol at the city and doctors’ recommendation he should not be a first responder anymore and was transferred to the robbery section as a detective.
“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety disorder,” Niggemeyer told the Dispatch.
“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.”
Since 2011, the 41-year-old Niggemeyer has had a non-police job with the city. He praised those who responded to the shooter before he showed up, saying, “When tragedy strikes, there are people in this world who will step up and try to stop it. There are people who will stand up in the face of death and give their life to try to save others…. They did that with no police there, with no guns. Those are the true heroes to me.”