Original article no longer available
Family and friends remember Dague’s hard work, brilliance in aftermath of tragedy
Tragic events unfolded in a matter of hours Sunday when a promising University of Montana pharmacy student was arrested after robbing a pharmacy with a can of pepper spray, released on bond and later committed suicide as his father stood nearby.
Missoula police said Nathan Dague, 24, of Missoula, shot himself in the chest with a high powered hunting rifle in the driveway of his father?s home on the 1800 block of Epsilon Lane.
Nathan Dague’s story puzzles his family and has them struggling for answers. Days before, Dague was a straight A student at the top of his class.
The story of Nathan Dague neither begins nor ends in the matter of these few hours.
The chain of events began Sunday at 3 p.m., when Dague, disguised in a hat and mask, entered the Safeway on Reserve Street and approached the pharmacy counter with a can of pepper spray wrapped in red duct tape, said Lt. Jim Neumayer, detective for the Missoula Police Department.
Dague jumped the counter, demanding the pharmacist hand over two different types of painkillers, Neumayer said.
When the pharmacist opened the safe where the drugs were kept, Dague put down his pepper spray to reach in. The pharmacist grabbed the pepper spray can and a struggle ensued, Neumayer said.
The pharmacist yelled for help. Several employees came to his aid, as well as two or three customers, Neumayer said. The group was able to restrain him until the police arrived.
Dague was arrested for attempted robbery but posted bond and was released at 6:46 p.m. Police have not yet determined who picked Dague up from jail, or the events leading up to Dague?s arrival at his father?s home an hour and a half later.
At 8:20 p.m., Dague stood in the driveway of home pointing a high powered hunting rifle at his chest. His father, Rusty Dague, standing in the driveway a few feet from his son, attempted to talk him out of pulling the trigger, Neumayer said.
Nathan Dague, a second year pharmacy student and an academic perfectionist in the eyes of family and professors, fatally shot himself once in the chest. He was five days shy of his 25th birthday.
You couldn’t have asked for a nicer kid, said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Lori Morrin. He was a superb example of how it should be done. He was active and intelligent.
Nathan Dague’s death leaves his family stunned. They said he has no criminal record and, in fact, is a straight A student.
Along with taking 21 credits this semester and maintaining an almost-perfect GPA, Nathan Dague struggled with depression for which he was taking medication, Rusty Dague said.
Nathan had a bad part of his life we’re not fully understanding, Rusty Dague said.
Nathan Dague also put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed, said Nathan Dague’s mother, Karen.
He took life pretty seriously, she said. Not that he didn’t like to party, but he would sacrifice his weekend to get his work done.
In his organic chemistry class, for example, Nathan Dague set the standard of excellence by only missing one question during the entire second semester of the year-long class, Rusty Dague said.
He might have been a top student during his first semester, but Nathan sought perfection, he said.
His success in his organic chemistry class earned him an award for academic achievement given by the pharmacy school, said his younger brother Philip Dague, also a UM student.
Nathan Dague was elected to the Montana Pharmacy Association last spring by the Academy of Students of Pharmacy to serve as the student representative. His dedication to the school became obvious in 2000 after Nathan Dague spent his entire Christmas break voluntarily putting together a student survey on voter behavior among pharmacy students.
He was disturbed by hearing the low numbers of pharmacy students who turned out to vote, Rusty Dague said. He got passionate about things. This was not even for a class or anything, he just did it.
Nathan Dague’s younger brother Philip, a junior at UM, lived in the same duplex as his older brother. Despite the brothers? close proximity, Philip Dague said he rarely saw Nathan Dague. When he wasn’t studying, which he was most of the time, he was hanging out with friends and his girlfriend of two years, both of which were very important to Nathan, Karen Dague said.
Last Friday on campus, Philip Dague unexpectedly ran into Nathan.
I said something stupid about computers, he said.
It was the last thing he ever said to his brother.
Nathan Dague?s motivation was an inspiration to his family and set the standards for success. Not only did he find success academically, but in everything he did, Karen Dague said. He prided in his work as a fire fighter in the Clearwater National Forest.
You know when he was climbing a mountain, he’ll be the first to the top, Philip Dague said, and when he gets there, he?ll want to keep going.
The family is looking to schedule funeral arrangements for Saturday, Rusty Dague said. The Pharmacy School has not yet determined if there will be a reception of any kind.