Four Dead In Ohio...

Joe Lewinski lewinski at
Thu Dec 9 07:30:31 CST 2004

Former Pantera Guitarist Killed on Stage:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A gunman charged onstage at a packed nightclub and opened 
fire on the band and the crowd, killing top heavy metal guitarist "Dimebag" 
Darrell Abbott and three other people before a police officer shot him to 
death, authorities and witnesses said.

Columbus police department spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio identified three of 
the victims of Wednesday's shooting as Abbott, guitarist with the heavy 
metal rock band Damageplan, and two other men, Nathan Bray and Erin Halk.

Damageplan had just begun their first song at the Alrosa Villa when the man 
opened fire, first targeting Abbott, shooting him multiple times at 
point-blank range, a witness said.

Abbott, 38, one of metal's top guitarists, and his brother, Damageplan 
drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, were original members of Grammy-nominated 
thrash rock pioneers Pantera, one of the most popular metal bands of the 
early 1990s.

The witness, 22-year-old Chris Couch, said he was standing about 30 feet 
away from the stage when he noticed a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and 
hockey jersey walk up to the stage, followed by a bouncer and another club 

The man in the jersey climbed onto the stage, started yelling and shot the 
guitarist five or six times at close range, Couch said. He said the gunman 
also shot a bouncer who pulled him off the musician.

Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mull said that after shooting at 
members of the band, the gunman fired into the crowd. Mull said a police 
officer who arrived shortly after the shooting began shot and killed the 

"If the officer wasn't as close as he was, I think this would have been a 
lot worse," he said. "It was a chaotic scene, just a horrific scene."

Mercurio said the officer who killed the suspect was patrolling nearby when 
he heard the call go out. He entered the club through a back door and was 
directed to the stage, where he saw one person lying dead and the suspect 
holding onto another person, Mercurio said. The officer shot and killed the 

The suspect's name and that of the fifth person killed were not immediately 
released. Mercurio said their family members are still being notified.

After the shooting began, Couch and a friend headed for the exit along with 
a tide of hundreds of fans.

"It was definitely a grudge. It was against something," Couch said.

Amanda Stankus, 19, who attended the show with Couch, said she initially 
thought the shooting was part of the show. "I just saw the guitarist fall 
down, and we decided to get out of there," she said.

The Abbott brothers produced Damageplan's debut album, "New Found Power," 
which was released in February. Other band members are vocalist Patrick 
Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla.

"Damageplan carries on the tradition Pantera started, the ... hell-raising 
tradition we were all about," Vinnie Paul Abbott told The Dallas Morning 
News in October. "We do play some Pantera songs. Me and Dime wrote them, 
and we feel like we have the right to play them. But the focus is on 

"It took a while for some of the Pantera fans to accept it; we knew that 
was gonna be the case," he said. "Change is something that people have a 
hard time accepting. But me and Dime intended on doing this our whole lives."

A message left with Atlantic Records, which oversees the record label on 
which Damageplan records, was not immediately returned.

Damageplan's Web site said Darrel and Vinnie Abbott grew up in the 
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area where their father, country songwriter Jerry 
Abbott, owned a recording studio.

Telephone numbers for both Darrell and Jerry Abbott are unlisted and could 
not be reached early Thursday by The Associated Press.

Pantera, known for its brutally hard, fast and aggressive sound, recorded 
four albums in the 1990s. They attracted a massive cult following and the 
band's third release, "Far Beyond Driven," debuted at No. 1 in 1994, 
surprising chart-watchers and critics alike.

Pantera was nominated for Grammys for best metal performance in 1995 for 
"I'm Broken" and in 2001 for "Revolution Is My Name." The video "The Best 
of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboys' Vulgar Hits," made 
charts earlier this year as one of the top 10 in music video sales.

Dozens of messages were posted to the Dallas band's Web site after the 

"This is the worst day in metal history," one posting read.

"The metal world feels your pain," another wrote.


Associated Press writer Jay Jorden in Dallas contributed to this report.

Joe in Philly 

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