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Shooting at Damageplan show, 12/8/04



Darrell Lance Abbott, a.k.a. Dimebag Darrell
August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004

(Photo: Gnarly Charlie / KNAC.com)

Updated 12/11/2004 12:24:43 AM ET

All of the details have basically come out regarding the shooting incident at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday night, December 8th. A vigil has been set up outside of the club, where fans have left memorial tributes to Dimebag and to others killed that night.

There is an online guestbook courtesy of the Dallas Morning News which you can sign and leave your thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Dimebag Darrell. It’s located at:

Anywhere you go, the details of this tragedy are pretty much all over the news, but here are some of the latest updates from the local media in Columbus, Ohio where the incident occured.

From the Web site of WBNS-10 TV in Columbus:

North Columbus
Gunman, Four Others Killed At Concert

Five people are dead after a man leaps onstage during a Damageplan concert and opens fire.

Witnesses believe the gunmen had a grudge with one of the band members because he fired directly at one person. Police have not been able to confirm that.

Witnesses say it was pandemonium inside the Alrosa Villa Wednesday night and flooded dispatchers with 911 calls.

Caller: I’m at the Alrosa Villa and there’s a shooting. Somebody’s shooting the band on the stage.

Dispatcher: Somebody’s shooting the band on the stage?

Caller: On the stage, at the Alrosa Villa.

"Dimebag" Darrel Abbot, the lead guitarist of the group Damageplan would be the first to die.

Jeremy Spencer, 16, saw the gunman run on stage. He says, "He fired a full clip and he was reloading."

Another 911 call describes the chaos inside.

Caller: Does anybody have a description? Anybody see him with a gun? He’s still shooting! He’s still shooting!

Dispatcher: Do you see him anywhere?

Caller: The guy’s still shooting! The guy’s still shooting!

Five people would die, including 23-year old Nathan Bray, a fan of the band.

Witnesses say the gunman had a grudge against one of the band members.

One says, "When you see someone point a gun at one person only and unload five rounds into them, something is going on."

Dispatcher: How many shots were fired?

Caller: Well there’s been multiple. I don’t know.

Dispatcher: Did you see anybody with a gun?

Caller: Yes

Police say the gunman was Nathan Gale. He was on stage with a hostage, when Columbus police Officer James Niggemeyer quietly entered the lounge’s back door.

The officer shot and killed Gale. In one witnesses words, "It appeared he was about to kill his hostage when the officer basically put an end to it."

Fans came throughout Thursday to pay tribute to the band, and offer their respects to the victims.

Police have identified 29-year old Erin Halk, a fan, as the fourth person killed in the shooting.

The fifth victim was Jeff Thompson, 40, whose last known address was in Texas.

A vigil, mourning those killed in the nightclub, has been set up just outside the Alrosa Villa.

Eyewitnesses Describe Scene At Club

10TV talked to several eyewitnesses, including a Mount Vernon man who performed CPR on one of the band members, after the nightclub shooting that killed five people.

Among the dead is Darryl ‘Dimebag’ Abbott, the lead guitarist for the band Damageplan.

It happened just after 10 p.m. at the Alrosa Villa, a well known Columbus nightclub.

A man rushed the stage, according to witnesses, and began firing a semi-automatic handgun.

He shot at least one band member and then, according to witnesses, fired on the crowd.

Moment’s after the band’s guitarist was shot several times, one fan in the front row, despite the obvious danger, and jumped on stage trying his best to save a life

William Wever says, "That’s just the blood. I was giving CPR, doing something anybody else would do. There was some gurgling. I couldn’t see where he was hit. The guy I was helping… Shot three times… Shot at least three times.

Witnesses say just seconds later a police officer arrived, and with one shotgun blast, put an end to the rampage.

North Columbus
Former Pantera Band Member Killed

Police have identified a 25-year-old man as the suspected shooter in Wednesday night’s nightclub killings in Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio identified Nathan Gale as the gunman who opened fire at the Alrosa Villa nightclub, killing four people including the guitarist for the band Damageplan. A police officer shot and killed Gale.

Mercurio says she has no information on a possible motive for the shootings, or any connection Gale may have had to the band.

Members of the heavy metal band Damageplan had just begun their first song Wednesday night at the Alrosa Villa when the man opened fire on the band, initially shooting the guitarist, who went by the name "Dimebag" Darrel Abbott, witnesses said.

According to the band’s Web site, the guitarist and another member are formerly of the heavy metal band Pantera.

The gunman opened fire on band members, killing four people and wounding at least two others, said Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mull, adding that more people could have been shot and left the scene before authorities arrived. Mull said that after shooting at members of the band, the gunman fired into the crowd.

Mull said a police officer arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting began, and he shot and killed the gunman.

Mull wouldn’t confirm the identities of the victims.

Witnesses say the shooting occurred about 30 seconds after Damageplan had begun playing.

Other members of Damageplan include vocalist Patrick Lachman and bass player Bob Zilla, according to the band’s Web site.

Pantera, known for its brutally hard, fast and aggressive sound, recorded four albums between 1990 and 1996. 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.

Here are some eyewitness accounts sent in by Sludgaholics in the night of the shooting:

Monty610, a Sludgeaholic who was at the Al Rossa Villa, posted this first-hand account on our Gossip Boards:

Oh my God…

I’m shaking so bad I can hardly type this.


I went to see Damage Plan tonight at The Al Rosa Villa here in Columbus. And I’m afraid I may be the bearer of some VERY TRAGIC news…

Less than a minute into Damage Plan’s set, some guy ran onstage, grabbed Dimebag, and just started pumping shots into him!!! I am in total shock right now. I was close to the stage and it was all very confusing. As soon as I realized that the shots were real, I got the fuck out of there, along with many screaming and crying others. It’s lucky there was not a Station style trampling on the way out the door.

THIS IS SO FUCKED UP!!! The breaking news here is that at least 5 people were shot and 3 are confirmed DEAD!!! They have not said if Dimebag is one of them, but I’m serious folks…I don’t see how he could still be alive. When I turned to look at the stage the last time, he was still down…

Here’s an e-mail we also received from a Sludgeaholic in Columbus:

Got some bad news for you guys, and this isn’t a joke… as of 11:13 p.m. on Wednesday, word here in Columbus is that at least one member of the band Damage Plan has been shot during a live performance that was going on about an hour ago, at the Alrossa Villa, only two doors down from where I am at work, right now, typing this to you.

As of 11:30 p.m., the local news here is saying that 3 people are dead, and 4 were taken to a local hospital as a result of a shooting at the club. Some witnesses are saying (though this can’t be confirmed) that someone from the audience approached the stage as Damage Plan was beginning to plan, and for one reason or another, shot (according to some reports) at least 3 times at guitarist Dimebag Darrel. Reports have not confirmed if Darrel is dead or not, but given the number of witness reports that have spoken to local news and have reported the same facts, things aren’t looking good (some witnesses reported at least 5 shots at Darrel).

Why the shooter(s) did this is currently unbeknownst to me, or anyone that has been confirmed by local media or police authorities. I spoke to a cop here and he said that there may be more than one person involved in the shooting, but again, this can;t be confirmed.

Currently, the street where I work (again, only 2 doors down from the nightclub) is completely blocked by cop cars. Helecopters, cruisers, etc are all over the place. The largest strech of railroad track in the Columbus metro area runs right behind the club, and for some reason, the cops are combing these tracks like crazy; it’s obvious that they are looking for someone/something there. We were told to lock all the doors to the building, as the shooter(s) may still be on the loose. Attached below are current clips from local news sources. This is not a hoax. Please do not reprint my email address becasue I am at work and I am only telling you what I have seen and heard.

Thanks and sorry to be the bearer of such shitty news,


Here’s yet another e-mail from a witness with a slightly different account. This is from Deege, our March 2002 Sludgeaholic of the Month, who was also in attendance at the Damageplan show.

hey…sotm 3-02 Deege here. I saw it all firsthand tonight at the Alrosa. I was 20 feet or less from Dime when he was shot. it all happened so fast. The other 3 band members are all alive, despite rumors and news reports. I just wanted to clear that up. I will type the full story for you all later from what I saw, but I am still in shock. I can’t believe it…I don’t want to believe it, but I saw it all with my own two eyes.

The shooter is dead, however another guy was found in the woods behind the venue and drug to the parking lot and arrested.

Rest In Peace, Dimebag.


It is tragic when something like this happens, and nothing we could say would help to make any sense out of this situation. It really defies explanation. We are saddened by the events of Wednesday evening, and our condolences and thoughts go out to the families and friends of the victims of this random and senseless act.

Metal Sludge

Dimebag Darrell with Sludgeaholics, Dallas TX, July 2003

First posted 12/8/2004 11:14:32 PM ET; Last updated 12/9/2004 4:53:47 PM ET

Reports are coming in from Columbus, Ohio, where a shooting occurred at Alrossa Villa, the nightclub where Damageplan was performing tonight. The earliest news suggested that Dimebag Darrell and one other band member were among those killed, though thankfully none of the other band members were fatally injured during the shooting.

The following was posted at the Web site of WCMH TV Channel 4, the NBC affiliate in Columbus at http://www.nbc4i.com/news/3983630/detail.html (video report here):

5 Dead, 2 Wounded In Nightclub Shooting
Witnesses: Alleged Guman Went Onto Stage, Fired Shots

POSTED: 10:32 pm EST December 8, 2004
UPDATED: 11:41 am EST December 9, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Police released the name of the gunman who allegedly went on a shooting rampage at a Columbus nightclub Wednesday night, killing four people before a police officer shot him dead.

Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville, reportedly jumped onto a concert stage and open fire, NBC 4 reported.

The shooting took place shortly after 10 p.m. at Alrosa Villa, located at 5055 Sinclair Rd.

Police have scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference. Watch it live on NBC 4 and nbc4i.com.

A crowd of about 250 people was inside for a concert by Damageplan, a heavy metal band. Two former members of the band Pantera formed the group.

The band took the stage shortly after 10 p.m., and minutes later, a man, who was wearing a hockey jersey and hooded sweatshirt, began firing at point-blank range at least four times at guitarist Dimebag Darrell, NBC 4’s Kyle Anderson reported.

Darrell Abbott, who was known as "Dimebag Darrell," was pronounced dead at the scene, NBC 4’s Kyle Anderson reported. Police released the names of two others who died. They were Nathan Bray and Erin Halk, both audience members.

"(The gunman) came on stage, from the back, like he knew what he was doing and went straight to Dimebag Darrell immediately," an unidentified witness said.

Gale reportedly shot and killed another member of the band before firing shots into the crowd.

Columbus police were flooded with 911 calls from concertgoers right after the shooting. Some witnesses said Gale took a person hostage. Minutes later, a Columbus police Officer James D. Niggemeyer entered the nightclub and shot and killed Gale, police said.

Police did not identify the other person who died at the scene.

Authorities spent hours questioning audience members.

As calls for help came in, dozens of police and EMS crews were dispatched to the scene.

Emergency room workers at Riverside Methodist Hospital were told to watch out for people who would ask for care on Thursday. Police said that about 100 people left the Alrosa Villa before officers got the scene under control.

Two people who were shot were transported by ambulance to Riverside. Their names were not released and hospital officials would not comment about their conditions.

Columbus police and firefighters set up a triage outside the nightclub to treat anyone with minor injuries, NBC 4 reported.

Many people who were injured during the shooting spree and in the chaos that followed were put on buses and treated for injuries at the scene, NBC 4 reported.

Alrosa Villa is a popular north Columbus nightspot for young adults, featuring rock and heavy metal bands, NBC 4 reported.

According to the band’s Web site, Damageplan was touring nationally. It performed in Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday night and had a concert scheduled in Flint, Mich., on Thursday.

Damageplan featured former Pantera artists Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. The pair was joined by vocalist Patrick Lachman and bassist Bobzilla, according to their Web site.

Scene outside the Alrossa Villa in Columbus (AP Photo)

CNN.com also posted the following article which includes eyewitness accounts:

Gunman kills 4 at Ohio nightclub
Police officer shoots suspect to death
Thursday, December 9, 2004 Posted: 1:41 PM EST (1841 GMT)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) — A 25-year-old man stormed the stage at a heavy-metal rock concert Wednesday night, shooting and killing Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and three others before a police officer shot and killed him, Columbus police said.

On Thursday, police identified the suspect as Nathan Gale of nearby Marysville. A spokesman said police had no information about a motive or possible link to the band.

"Right now we don’t see any connection at all, but that could change," Columbus police Sgt. Brent Mull said. "Unless he left a note or there’s something else, we may never know the motive."

At least two people also were wounded in the attack, which occurred shortly after Damageplan began its performance at the Alrosa Villa nightclub on Columbus’ north side.

James Niggemeyer of the Columbus police was nearby and responded to a call about the shooting. He slipped in a back door, and someone directed him to the stage, Mull said.

"We got the call about 10:18, and by 10:20 he was in there," Mull said, adding that "it was probably less than a minute before he engaged" the suspect, who was holding a hostage.

"The officer was able to strategically gun this guy down before he was able to kill his hostage," Mull said. "It appeared he was about to kill his hostage before this officer put an end to it."

Mull said the hostage was unharmed and that Niggemeyer’s action saved lives.

"The officer ran in without any backup … obviously put himself at risk," he said. "The community has a real hero here."

Abbott, 39, and his brother, Vinnie Paul Abbott, 40, formed Damageplan after the breakup of Pantera — a group they formed in the 1980s. Their father is Jerry Abbott, a country and western songwriter and producer.

At least one of those killed — Nathan Bray, 23 — was a member of the audience. Mull identified another deceased victim as Erin Halk, 29, although it was unclear if he was a concertgoer or an employee.

Mull did not identify the remaining fatality. Abbott was the only band member confirmed dead "at this point," he said.

One of the wounded is in critical condition, the other hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Two others were hurt and treated at the scene, although the nature of their injuries was unclear.

Mull said homicide detectives are checking possible amateur video shot inside the club during the shooting but said they weren’t sure if the footage would be useful.

Police roped off a huge area of the nightclub’s parking lot as 60 detectives questioned hundreds of witnesses. Police brought in buses to keep the witnesses warm as they waited.

Witnesses described the gunman as a heavyset man, wearing a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey jersey.

Calvin Bota said he saw the shooting from the mosh pit in front of the stage shortly after the band began playing.

"Somebody came — I don’t know where they came from, out of the audience or whatnot — but they come onto [the] stage and … he shot the guitarist at first, fired a couple of other shots and then he hid behind the stage a little bit," Bota told CNN affiliate WSYX.

"Everybody started scattering, you know, there’s mayhem everywhere. And then a police officer came into the building, you know, came in professional with his gun raised, and then he proceeded to shoot the guy."

Gerald Caudill said the gunman shot Abbott at least four times.

"I was up close to the stage, and I just saw some guy run up on the side of the stage, and I heard some shots and I saw Vinnie fall, and somebody jumped on top of Vinnie, and the guy just stayed around the stage and started shooting other people," Caudill said.

"I saw wounded people all over the place, out in the parking lot, inside," he said. "It just didn’t sound like gunshots or anything; it didn’t occur to me that something like that was happening."

Mull said Columbus police have responded to previous incidents at the club, including several he characterized as minor as well as a shooting in the parking lot. He said he was unaware of the club’s security practices, except that it had no surveillance camera or metal detector.

"They are in charge of their own security inside," he said. "There are times they hire off-duty Columbus police for parking lot security — we are prohibited by law from working inside a liquor establishment — but last night there were none."

CNN Producer Steve Brusk in Columbus contributed to this report.

WCPO-TV Channel 9, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, posted another report at http://www.wcpo.com/news/2004/local/12/08/columbus_shooting_ap.html, which includes comments from a law enforcement official and additional first-hand accounts:

Five Dead, Two Injured In Columbus Nightclub Shooting

Reported by: A.P.
Web produced by: Neil Relyea
Photographed by: 9News
12/9/2004 12:23:15 AM

A man opened fire in a crowded nightclub during a rock concert Wednesday night, killing at least four people and wounding at least two others before he was shot to death by police, authorities said.

A man walked on stage during the show at the Alrosa Villa and opened fire on band members, killing four people and wounding at least two others, said Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mull, adding that more people could have been shot and left the scene before authorities arrived.

Mull said a police officer shot and killed the gunman. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the officer was already at the show or had responded to an emergency call.

Columbus resident Chris Couch, 22, said the shooting occurred about 30 seconds after the show’s headliner, DAMAGEPLAN, had begun playing.

Couch, who was standing about 30 feet away from the stage, noticed a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and hockey jersey walk up to the stage, followed by a bouncer and another club employee.

The man in the jersey climbed onto the stage, started yelling and shot the guitarist five or six times at close range, Couch said.

Couch said the gunman also shot a bouncer who pulled him off the musician.

At that point, Couch and a friend headed for the exit along with a tide of hundreds of fans.

It appeared the gunman purposely sought out the guitarist, whom Couch identified as a performer who went by the name "Dimebag Darrell."

Authorities didn’t immediately provide the identities of the victims.

"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," said Stankus, of Columbus.

Stankus said she didn’t see any metal detectors or uniformed police officers at the venue and that she wasn’t searched or frisked on her way in.

WBNS-10 TV in Columbus first posted the following information on their Web site at http://www.wbns10tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2668923&nav=LUERTzwc:

Reports of a shooting at Al Rosa Villa on Sinclair Road in North Columbus.

Three people are dead and at least seven are wounded.

Three people in critical condition were taken to Riverside Hospital.

One person was taken to Grant Hospital in stable condition, with a gunshot wound to the thigh.

A triage center has been set up behind the restaurant to help victims with minor injuries still on the scene.

Blabbermouth.net reported that of the members of Damageplan, only Dimebag Darrell was counted among the fatalities:

DAMAGEPLAN Shooting Update: VINNIE PAUL Uninjured; Metal Musicians Mourn DIMEBAG’s Passing – Dec. 9, 2004

Scoop of the Columbus, Ohio radio station The Blitz 99.7 FM has confirmed to BLABBERMOUTH.NET that DAMAGEPLAN drummer Vinnie Paul was uninjured in the shooting incident at a Columbus nightclub which resulted in the death of Paul’s brother, Dimebag Darrell. According to Scoop, who attended the concert and briefly saw Vinnie following the incident, Paul was in a complete state of shock and expressed his desire to be with his brother right after the shooting occurred.

A friend of Scoop’s, Kevin Minerd, who also attended the concert, told BLABBERMOUTH.NET that the gunman entered the stage from the left side and walked over to the right side where Dimebag was standing before grabbing the guitarist and pumping several bullets into him. Additional shots were fired, although it’s presently unclear which other member of DAMAGEPLAN, if any, was killed in the incident.

"A Columbus police officer, when he arrived, engaged the shooter, and the shooter is also dead, and if the officer hadn’t acted when he did and how he did, we’d probably be looking at more dead, because this guy was actively shooting," Sergeant Brent Mull, public information officer, told MTV News.

"We have 200-plus patrons that we have sequestered inside three city buses," Sergeant Mull explained. "We are interviewing them one by one. The ones that were inside and witnessed this, ran for their lives and were in fear for their lives. They are victims too, and we want to take care of them."

As news of Dimebag’s (born Darrell Lance Abbott in Dallas, Texas on August 20, 1966) bizarre and tragic demise rippled through the metal community, the news was met with shock and sadness.

"I’m speechless," friend and ROB ZOMBIE/OZZY OSBOURNE bassist Rob "Blasko" Nicholson told MTV. "This is totally unreal. Dimebag is a fucking legend and this is total bullshit."

"This is insane and this is beyond travesty," KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman, and former DAMAGEPLAN tour partner, Howard Jones said. "This is beyond anything I’ve ever heard. This shouldn’t happen in or outside of the rock and metal community. He will be missed and mourned as a person, as a musician, and as a friend."

ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian, whose band has toured with PANTERA and has featured Dimebag guest appearances on their albums, stated in a posting on ANTHRAX’s web site, "I am devastated as I’m sure we all are. All I can convey at this moment are my condolences to Rita and Vinnie and the whole family. My heart is with you."

MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx offered the following: "Dime, I will never forget all the times you made us laugh. I’m so happy we got to spend the day together in London recently? We should all live our lives as full as you have. I will miss you, as will all of us… This is a sad day."

Rich Ward (FOZZY, STUCK MOJO): "Darrell was as nice as they come. During the times that I spent with him, I wondered why he played in such a heavy band. Not that he didn’t have the ability to school all of us that dared to share a stage with him, but because he seemed like such a gentle and kind man. He had a great sense of humor and was someone that everyone in the room gravitated toward. He never carried himself like the big rock star that he really was, instead he came across humble and appreciative. I consider it a privilege to have known him, as he was one of the ‘real’ guys in the business and as Zakk [Wylde] would say, ‘one of the boys’!"

Jon Dette (ex-SLAYER, TESTAMENT): "My brother just called to tell me that Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed on stage tonight. Words cannot express the sadness I’m feeling right now and my condolences go out to Vinnie Paul and the Abbott family for their loss. This is a huge tragedy for the music world."

Orange County, California-based sextet BLEED THE SKY (recently signed to Nuclear Blast Records): "It’s a sad day in heavy metal, Dimebag Darrell formerly of PANTERA, was shot and killed while performing with DAMAGEPLAN in Ohio. We would more than likely not be a band if it wasn’t for him, and can’t possibly imagine the pain that his brother and his family must be in. RIP, brother, heavy music will never be the same without you."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

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