COLUMBUS — For many in Columbus, news of the shooting at the Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks, California, brought back memories of what happened nearly 14 years ago here at the Al Rosa Villa nightclub, when a Marysville man shot and killed four people including a musician performing at the club. One of those remembering today is the former Columbus Police officer who ended the incident by shooting and killing gunman Nathan Gale.
James Niggemeyer is struck by the similarities in the incidents: both happened at music clubs; in both cases the shooter was a former Marine; and in both cases police burst in to try to stop the violence. In 2004, Niggemeyer shot and killed Gale. Last night in California, one of two officers was shot and killed upon entering the club.
"That's one of the first things you think about," Niggemeyer said "Him or me."
Niggemeyer said it shocks him that mass shootings continue to happen in this country. Back in 2004, they happened less frequently.
Investigators have speculated that the man who pulled the trigger in Wednesday's incident may have suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder. Niggemeyer said there must be a better understanding and recognition of mental health issues. He himself suffered from PTSD after the incident at the Al Rosa Villa, which led to his retirement from police work. He said the diagnosis is often seen as a stigma.
"It's real," he said. "And you don't have to be a first responder, or military."
Niggemeyer currently works for the city of Columbus in the fleet services department. He said he keeps in touch with survivors from the 2004 incident, but doesn't expect the mass shooting to prompt him to pick up the phone. He said that only dredges up the bad memories.