The man who gunned down former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott during a concert was an obsessed fan of Abbott's former band and alarmed people with his bizarre behavior...

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The man who gunned down former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott during a concert was an obsessed fan of Abbott’s former band and alarmed people with his bizarre behavior, a one-time friend said yesterday.

Nathan Gale had told friends that Pantera musicians had stolen lyrics from him and were trying to steal his identity, former friend Dave Johnson said.

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 him to death. Two others were wounded.

Investigators said they may never know Gale’s motive. Some witnesses said he yelled accusations that the heavy-metal guitarist broke up Pantera, but police had not verified those reports.

Gale once showed up at a friend’s house with songs he said he had written, said Johnson, 27. Gale wanted to sing the songs with Johnson’s band, but one musician said no because the lyrics were copied from Pantera.

“He’d been kind of weird before that, so we thought it was another ‘Crazy Nate’ thing,” Johnson said. “That was our nickname for him, ‘Crazy Nate.’ ”

Guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott

Johnson said Gale then calmly said that Pantera had stolen the lyrics from him and he was going to sue them. He also said the band was trying to steal his identity.

Johnson said Gale was a “hard-core” Pantera fan and “that was all he listened to.”

Johnson said he last saw Gale in their hometown of Marysville, about 25 miles northwest of Columbus, about six months ago. Johnson said he had distanced himself from Gale because of odd behavior that included talking and laughing to himself and once appearing to be holding an imaginary dog, he said.

An imposing figure at 6-foot-3, Gale had made people uneasy at a Marysville tattoo parlor, staring and locking them into conversations about heavy-metal music.

Hours before the shootings, Gale argued with a tattoo-shop worker over equipment he wanted the studio to order for him.

“I thought he had low self-esteem because of his thick glasses,” said the worker, Bo Toler.

Gale served in the Marines until November 2003, when he was discharged after less than half of the typical four-year stint, a Marine spokeswoman said. 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 Texas-based Damageplan, formed by Abbott and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, after they left Pantera. Gale dodged two band members, grabbed Darrell Abbott and shot him at least five times in the head, witnesses and police said.

Gale also killed Erin Halk, 29, a club employee who loaded band equipment; fan Nathan Bray, 23; and band bodyguard Jeff Thompson, 40.