By Margie Wuebker
Rockford has been a crossroads for a few criminals during the years, including the man who shot three people to death in a Columbus nightclub before being killed by a police officer's bullet.
Local police chief Paul May did not recognize the name of Marysville resident Nathan Gale plastered across newspapers and television screens in the wake of the Wednesday night shooting at the Alrosa Villa club on Columbus' north side.
However, mayor's court clerks apparently did.
They double checked the records and then reached for the court's answering machine tape. Several weeks ago Gale left a nasty message on the machine after being stopped in Marysville on a Rockford warrant for his arrest, according to May.
May stopped Gale just inside the Rockford village limits in October 2001 for a faulty exhaust system. The motorist, a former member of a Lima semi-professional football team, failed to appear in mayor's court and Rockford officials had his operator's license suspended. Gale demanded paperwork be faxed to him in the message, which reportedly contained "extremely vulgar language," according to May. Authorities subsequently contacted his mother.
"He made no threats but the tape could be of use to Columbus authorities," the police chief added. "It is all very eerie and kind of scary in light of what happened this week."
This is not the first time a criminal has traveled through town on busy U.S. 33.
Some years ago police officer Bryan Stetler stopped a car bearing Kentucky license plates for a speeding violation. The driver and three male companions were returning from Fort Wayne, Ind., at the time. The motorist settled the traffic violation at the police department and was released after no outstanding warrants were found in the computer system used by authorities.
Two days later Kentucky police issued a nationwide bulletin for the same man in connection with the earlier murder of a dancer.
"All of this makes a person stop and think," May says. "You never know who might be driving through town on any given day."