It was December 8th, 2004. The phone rang at 1:30AM…
“Turn on CNN.”
I did as was instructed, and saw the clip. It was grainy “home video” of a stage. A stage, that could be in Anywhere, USA.
This stage was in Columbus, Ohio. And just minutes before, my friend Darrell’s band was onstage. Doing what they did every night. Doing what Darrell did every night he could since he was able to make things happen with his hands and a guitar.
This is not about Darrell.
I had many friends in that bar that night. People I worked with so many years before. I later learned that one friend was actually in one of the opening bands on the bill that night. My thoughts were of them. They didn’t expect to witness what they saw. They just wanted to enjoy a night of intense Rock music. What they got was intense in a way I hope to never comprehend.
As Darrell’s band took the stage, a madman (who shall not be named for he does not deserve recognition in any way for his actions) rushed the stage with guns drawn. For whatever twisted reason, he chose to take my friend Darrell, and three other innocents… (Nathan Bray, Erin Halk, & Jeffrey “Mayhem” Thompson. May they never be forgotten.)
After hearing how much ammunition the assailant was carrying, I can only assume that he had every intention of never leaving the bar that night, and taking as many as possible with him.
I was originally told that there were many more victims than the final tally. Thankfully, that turned out to be misinformation. Due to the actions of a man who would never call himself a “hero,” there’s no telling how many lives were saved.
His name (to me) is “Officer James.”
James Niggemeyer was the Columbus Police Officer who heard the emergency call and did what he had done ever since he was able. He answered the call. Like all Police Officers, he took an oath. “To Protect & Serve.”
Officer James did not want to do what he did. He did what he had to do. It is because of him, that I am able to talk about that night with my friends who were there. Friends who relive that night each year on this date.
Officer James relives that night too. Although I couldn’t begin to understand what he’s feeling either.
This is about thanks. Thanks to the Officer James’ everywhere.
We make fun of that which we do not understand. Cops are an easy target. It’s easy to get mad when we get pulled over. “Do you know why I stopped you?” Yes. You were doing your job. And I broke the law.
They do their job every day. Most of the time, we don’t really notice. Until we have to.
Today, I publicly thank Officer James for saving my friends’ lives. While others only remember those lost, I choose to celebrate those saved.Like Free Gotham on Facebook...