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More Alrosa Villa Accounts and Aftermath



Last-ever photo of Dimebag Darrell with a fan?

Here’s some more news and accounts collected from the Internet related to the tragic events at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio last week. Some are from people in the crowd at the Damageplan show, some are from people who were working at the club, some are from surviving family members of those unfortunately killed, and some are even from Sludgeaholics who were there.

We’ll start with an article printed in The Other Paper, Columbus’ News & Entertainment Weekly. Monty610 (aka Kevin Montavon), a Sludgeaholic who was at the Alrosa Villa the night of the shootings and who also first alerted us of the news on our Metal Sludge Gossip Board, was interviewed for the article. Here’s Monty’s e-mail he sent us about it:

Jani & Sludge Staff:

Thought you might be interested in these articles. You may have seen the threads already.

These are from "The Other Paper," the arts/entertainment/alternative news weekly in Columbus. The reporter actually contacted me through my Sludge PM box. The cover story in particular mentions Sludge, and my post, and the online community here… 



From The Other Paper:


Metal fans mourn their own
By Kristen Convery / Dec. 16, 2004

Kevin Montavon vividly remembers that night in 1991 when he saw Pantera for the first time. It began with a concert inside the Alrosa Villa. It ended hours later, after Montavon had partied into the wee hours as an invited guest on the band’s tour bus.

Phil Anselmo, the band’s singer, had been walking among the fans before the show, disguised in a hooded sweatshirt. But Montavon had recognized him nonetheless and said hello.

His friendliness paid off at the end of the show, when the band pulled "a whole bunch of people up on the stage," Montavon said. Before long, a gaggle of them were on the bus with Anselmo and his Pantera bandmates, brothers Vinnie Paul and "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

In the years that followed, Montavon became a devoted Pantera fan, in part because the members of the band were so "personable" the first time he saw them.

He’d been to more than 20 Pantera shows before the band’s breakup. (While there was no official split, Pantera recorded its last album in 2000, and Anselmo told VH1.com last year that the band wasn’t planning to work together in the near future.)

Eight nights ago, Montavon headed to the Alrosa to see the Abbott brothers’ new band, Damageplan.

But instead of ending the night hanging with the band, as he had done 13 years ago, Montavon raced home from the club after watching a crazed fan, Nathan Gale, take the stage with a gun and kill Abbott.

Within moments, Gale also killed fan Nathan Bray, club employee Erin Halk and Damageplan crew member Jeff Thompson before Columbus police Officer James Niggemeyer burst into the club with a shotgun and killed Gale.

"Same place I met all these people," Montavon said, "and I watched them get gunned down."

If you want to start a fight with your best friend, bring a promising first date to an abrupt end or infuriate your spouse, just insult their favorite band.

For serious fans, music is an investment of money, time and passion. A Pantera lover might not remember the names of his co-workers, but he knows which track follows "Mouth for War" on his Vulgar Display of Power CD. And he probably remembers the first time he heard it, whether in a dorm room or on a basement couch. Or at a concert.

Virtually everyone who experienced the carnage at the Alrosa?from the witnesses to the victims to the troubled and delusional ex-Marine who came to attack Abbott?shared a love of heavy metal music.

As they struggle with the things they saw and heard Dec. 8, many survivors are grappling with the fact that they witnessed the deaths of a musician they admired, one of his roadies, a fellow Pantera fan and a worker at a club that felt like a second home.

Kevin Montavon was asked if he’d ever seen someone killed before.

"No," he said, "but I did have a family member who was murdered, so it’s a very similar experience right now."

Montavon was shaking like a leaf as he hurried to his car outside the Alrosa.

"The guy walking out next to me looked at me and said, ‘That shit was real.’ And I said to him, ‘I think we just saw Dimebag get murdered onstage.’"

As Montavon waited at the red light on Sinclair Road, 20 or 30 cruisers sped around the corner from Morse Road onto Sinclair. As he drove south on I-71 toward home, he saw even more police cars racing north.

When he got home, he assured his girlfriend that he was OK. Then he turned on his computer and went to Metal Sludge’s Gossip Board.

"It’s a community for me," he said. "That’s the site I would go to if I heard that news, so I just thought, ‘I have to tell these people.’"

By 10:59 p.m., 41 minutes after police started getting 911 calls from the Alrosa, Montavon was posting a message.

"Oh my God?" Montavon typed.

"I’m shaking so bad I can hardly type this. THIS IS NO FUCKING JOKE!!!….I’m afraid I may be the bearer of some VERY TRAGIC news?Less than a minute into Damageplan’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."

The next morning’s paper was the first time most people heard the name "Damageplan." But in the world of heavy metal, the band had an instant following, thanks largely to the musical pedigree of Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who over two decades had built a reputation as a groundbreaking guitarist.

Pantera emerged from Texas to build a cult fan base in the early 1980s. Not surprisingly for a metal band, Pantera had some rough edges; Abbott often had a Confederate flag on his guitar or performed in front of one, leading to discussion over whether he was racist.

Pantera’s breakup wasn’t amicable, and fans took sides. Anselmo didn’t make any secret of his contempt for his former bandmates, who In turn, took no great pains to compliment Anselmo.

In an undated interview with Modern Drummer magazine, Vinnie Paul blamed Anselmo for the breakup:

"Pantera didn’t split up over the usual reasons. There were no money issues or guys hating each other. We took a break, and then we heard that Phil Anselmo had quit the band. That would have been cool if he had called and let somebody know. But we couldn’t get in touch with the dude. We tried every way to figure out what was going on, but we couldn’t. So after a year, Dimebag and I realized that we didn’t have a band anymore. That’s where Damageplan came from."

Damageplan was fairly new?the band’s first album came out this year?but it was gaining fans who missed hearing Abbott’s trademarks, including the "false harmonic," which Eric McGuire described as a "really high squeal."

McGuire, the guitar player for Volume Dealer, which opened for Damageplan Wednesday night, said every player he knows would have liked to produce Abbott’s sound.

"Nobody," he said, "really played like him."

Last Thursday, reporters were gathered across the street from the Alrosa, waiting for a police press conference and hoping to catch people who’d been at the club.

Throughout the day, fans stopped by to pay their respects and lay tokens of their affection for Abbott on a boulder outside the club: red and yellow roses, a cross, a rebel flag, a bottle of beer. By Friday, Abbott’s name had been spray-painted in blue letters on the side of the building.

It was easy to pick out some of the Pantera fans: a young guy dressed in a black sweatshirt and black toboggan hat; a middle-aged man with a mullet and a black leather jacket; a guy with long scraggly hair.

But Greg Minor blended right in with the journalists.

Wearing jeans, a preppy gray sweater with blue and yellow stripes across the chest, and a pair of Adidas, he hardly looked the part of a metal fan. The 30-year-old fitness-equipment technician has a wife and a kid. But he had been at the show the night before.

"It’s heavy metal, and people like myself come here," he said. "People think heavy metal’s all bad. It’s not."

Minor sat shivering on a curb as new batches of reporters approached him, asking the same things over and over again: Were you at the club? What did you see? What did you hear?

Finally a reporter asked, "Do you feel lucky to have survived?"

"Not necessarily," Minor said. "Lucky would have been for everybody to survive. That would have been lucky."

? 2004 The Other Paper and CM Media Inc., Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

The Alrosa’s future is up in the air
By Jordan Gentile / Dec. 16, 2004

Even as they mourned the death of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott last week, metal fans around town quietly began fretting about the future of another icon: the Alrosa Villa.

They fear the nightclub that witnessed last week’s shootings could soon fall victim to devastating civil lawsuits and a lack of business.

And it appears Alrosa owner Rick Cautela shares those concerns. Asked Monday whether his club had a future, Cautela said, "I don’t know. I just don’t know."

He insisted that he and his staff "didn’t do anything wrong" on the night of the shootings but said his lawyer advised him against further comment.

Cautela’s friends are rallying to his defense. They say Alrosa’s longtime owner?the self-proclaimed "Rock and Roll Reverend" who has provided the city’s undiscovered talent with opportunities to shine?cares deeply for his customers and the bands that have played his club.

Dan Dougan, owner of Little Brother’s, said Cautela was shaken by the events of Dec. 8, when a Marysville metal fan named Nathan Gale killed Abbott and three others before being shot dead by a police officer.

Cautela "was very saddened," said Dougan, who’s known the Alrosa owner since he started going to shows at the club in the early ’80s. "He was having trouble sleeping for days."

Dougan told the Dispatch he believed Cautela, who reportedly had seven guards on duty the night of the shootings, was providing adequate security. Others within the industry agreed.

Promoters said clubs like the Alrosa are limited in what they can do to prevent an assault by someone who’s willing to sacrifice his own life in order to attack others.

"It wasn’t really the club’s fault," said Scott Stienecker, president of PromoWest Productions. "It was a deranged kid who had a goal in mind and was going to make sure it happened."

Police spokesman Brent Mull, when asked whether the Alrosa’s security team had been sufficient, said simply, "Hindsight’s 20-20."

No matter how good the club’s security precautions were, lawyers said the Alrosa Villa may be sued by family members of those killed in the shootings or by those wounded.

"I don’t think there’s any question," said Mark Kitrick, a Columbus attorney who specializes in personal-injury cases. "They have some serious liability problems in front of them."

Kitrick said the Alrosa’s recent history?including two non-fatal parking-lot shootings in the past two years?likely would be used by a plaintiff’s attorney to support a claim of negligence: "That’s what could be argued."

Paul Martinek, former editor of Ohio Lawyers Weekly, concurred.

"In a lot of ways, this is the classic ‘premises liability’ situation," he said.

The Alrosa Villa opened in 1974 during metal’s formative years and soon became the city’s most prominent showcase for metal acts and emerging local bands.

Through good times and bad?from the peak of metal in the 1980s to recent leaner years in which the club made itself available to independent hip-hop promoters?the place has been known for its familial atmosphere and its generosity to musicians.

Mike Steele, guitarist for Bobaflex, which has played at the Alrosa many times, gives credit to Cautela for having the guts to headline his then-unknown, out-of-town band because he believed in the group’s talent.

"We love being from West Virginia, but there’s just not a lot of good rock clubs out there," Steele said.

The first time Bobaflex played the Alrosa, he said, "the crowd reaction was really great, and it just made us feel at home. Now any time we bring a band there, we tell them Alrosa Villa is our home club. It’s our home."

The exposure paid off. An Eclipse Records executive who’d caught one of Bobaflex’s Alrosa concerts signed the band to a deal last year. Now on tour with Sevendust, members of the group heard of the tragedy just after they’d finished a set in Charleston, N.C.

"I was just speechless," Steele said. "I know what the place looks like. I could practically see the faces on the people in the crowd."

Within minutes of the shooting, websites such as metalsludge.com were deluged with visitors who wanted to express their shock and grief. While most paid tribute to Abbott, some mentioned the Alrosa as well?in terms that were just as personal and just as mournful.

One entry simply read: "Bye bye Alrosa Villa. RIP."

Those sentiments are premature, of course. But if the Alrosa Villa were to close, Dougan said Columbus’s music fans would be the ultimate losers.

"The Alrosa has been the place to showcase your metal band, and it has been for God knows how many years," he said. "If the place goes out of business, it will definitely affect these people."

? 2004 The Other Paper and CM Media Inc., Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

From KNAC.com:

2 Ohio Roadies Come Forward With Detailed Account of Nightclub Shooting

By Sefany Jones, Editor
Thursday, December 16, 2004 @ 1:19 AM

2 Roadies Recall Chilling Details of the Columbus Tragedy Which Took the Life of Dimebag Darrell; Story "Corrects" Media Press

We just received the following email:

?I am Karl Kuenning and I own a "Roadie" website (www.roadie.net) the number one "roadie" website in the world.

?I am working on a story regarding the Columbus shooting last week at the Damageplan concert that killed 4 people and the shooter.

?The main stream press has got this story wrong. They are making it out to be 4 people killed and a police officer ending it with an act of heroism. Although the Policeman was certainly a hero, before he got there the gunman was rushed by at least two and possibly four roadies (all unarmed) who sacrificed themselves to save the band and the fans (while distracting the gunman allowing the policeman to sneak up behind him a end it with a shotgun blast. Two of the roadies were killed, two were wounded (one seriously.)

?I have talked to two credentialed witnesses that saw everything (one of them working from the stage just a few feet from the gunman). They do not want to talk to the press because they do not trust them to report their account of the event truthfully. They are willing to tell their story through me, since most of the roadie community knows me and trusts me. They do not want any money (one of them lost a roommate and best friend in the shooting), they just want the story told correctly and that their friends that died so bravely get a little recognition for their selfless act.?


The story is now posted at http://www.roadie.net/heroes.htm


Here is the chilling account as collected by Karl Kuenning:

Today I was contacted by two local Columbus Roadies that were both eyewitnesses to the Damageplan Shootings exactly one week ago tonight in Columbus, Ohio at the Alrosa Villa club. They are members of the local stage crew in Columbus, and work several venues including the Alrosa. "Jon" is the club’s stage manager and "Tubbs" is the club’s F.O.H. (Front of House Sound Man) and was working monitors that fateful night as he normally did when a national act like Damageplan played the club. Neither Jon nor Tubbs have spoken publicly until now, even though both have been contacted by several national and local news sources and have been asked for comments. They have chosen to tell their story here to make sure their words are not misrepresented or taken out of context.

Here is their story of those terrible few minutes that have changed their lives forever and taken a close friend from them in the same instant. As Jon emotionally told me, "It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my life."

Both Jon and Tubbs said that the afternoon could not have gone any better. The band and their crew were extremely professional and friendly. Jon remembers Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson (the head of the band’s security) making sure the local crew all had plenty of water and Dimebag Darrell Abbott even made small talk with some of them during the sound check. "They were all incredible," said Jon. During the day however, a strange man made a nuisance of himself, and was finally told to leave the area by "Mayhem." Hangers-on and Want-ta-bees are common in the music business, and no one figured this guy was really dangerous. This of course turned out to be Nathan Gale, who as we know now ended up shooting six people, and killing four of them later that day. Other than that apparently minor incident, the set-up for the show went remarkably smooth. Tubbs now also remembers that just prior to the show Gale’s van was parked behind the band’s tour bus, and they announced over the PA several times for the owner to have it moved or it would be towed…which the Gale reportedly did shortly before Damageplan took the stage.

As the gig was about to start, Jon was on the stage with his roommate and close friend Erin "Stoney" Halk. On the opposite side of the stage stood Jeffrey ‘Mayhem’ Thompson performing his security duties by scanning the audience for any potential threats to the band. About that time (just a few minutes prior to the band entering the stage) Jon was thirsty, and decided to walk to the bar and get a bottle of water. He told "Stoney" that "the stage is yours" meaning that the responsibility for the security on that side of the stage (stage right) was now his. Stoney motioned a "thumbs up" to verify that he understood. Jon worked his way through the crowd and was near the bar when he heard the first shots. POP, POP, POP… He looked up and saw the horrific sight of Dimebag falling to the ground and the mass confusion unfolding on the stage. His most vivid memory of that moment strangely, is the ear-splitting feedback caused by Dimebag falling on his own guitar. During the next few panic filled minutes he grabbed and pushed people towards the closest door. In a blur of time he eventually ended up making his way towards the stage, grabbing Vinnie Paul Abbott (drummer for Damageplan and the brother of the now slain guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell) and ushered him to safety.

Tubbs was stage left and watched the entire surreal event unfold just a few feet in front of him. He says he was probably the last person to talk to Dimebag, having said something to him as he entered the stage. As the monitor guy for this gig, his mixing console was only about 5 or 6 feet away from the lead guitarist. According to Tubbs, the shooter (Nathan Gale) entered the stage from the stage right area (not from the audience as previously reported) As Gale determinedly ran towards Dimebag, the stage right roadie "Stoney" ran after him. "Mayhem" saw Gale and converged on him from stage left. Neither one got to center stage fast enough. Gale fired at least five bullets at point blank range into the doomed artist’s body. The final bullet was a fatal head shot fired as he went down. "He was dead before he hit the stage," says Tubbs. "The way the attack happened, nothing could have saved him… nothing," He also remembers the feedback (a droning hum at about 600 Hz, notes the trained ear of the audio tech.)

The next few minutes were confused, but this is what else Tubbs remembers.

As Dimebag hit the floor, the shooter now turned his attention to Tubbs (still only about five feet away). Gale raised the gun and aimed it at Tubbs who was now literally looking down the barrel of the gun. However, before he could shoot Tubbs, the two Roadies ("Stoney" and "Mayhem") tackled Gale from opposite sides. Neither one had a weapon, and both were putting their own lives at risk to try to stop the shooter from killing anyone else. Erin "Stoney" Halk was an ex-Marine and Jeffrey "Mayhem" Thompson was a massive 6’1” man and a very scary looking dude, so I’m sure they both thought they had a better than even chance to disarm the gunman. They were wrong. We now know that Nathan Gale was also a trained ex-Marine and he dropped his first empty clip and slapped another one in the semi-automatic 9 mm pistol in the blink of an eye. He killed both of these heroes within seconds of his first victim. Gale had at least five clips of bullets and he reloaded at least once, but probably twice, says Tubbs. As "Stoney" and "Mayhem" died making the ultimate sacrifice, two more roadies and several members of the audience also rose to the occasion and stormed the stage. Chris Paluska (the Damageplan Tour Manager) took a shot to the stomach, and is still in serious condition in a local hospital (according to the most recent report). John "Kat" Brooks (the band’s drum roadie) also took a hit (but thankfully has now been released from the hospital). According to Tubbs, both were definitely trying to subdue Gale. About the same time several members of the audience climbed the crowd barrier protecting the stage, and some tried to help "Dimebag" with CPR while others made their own attempts to subdue the shooter. (MORE HEROES). Tubbs believes that Nathen Bray (the only "civilian" casualty) was actually killed because he was one of those fans that climbed the stage. Tubbs does not believe that any shots were directed at the fleeing audience at any time (again contrary to published media reports). While all these failed attempts of these unarmed heroes attacking an armed gunman were happening, both Tubbs and Jon noticed several police officers quietly entering the club. Most of them took defensive positions, apparently waiting for more back up. Directly disputing published police reports they both claim that the officer that eventually killed Gale was NOT the first officer on the scene. He appeared however to be the first officer that decided to do something about the situation. Seeing that Gale had a hostage and that he was temporarily distracted by the waves of roadies and fans trying to disarm him, the officer shot the perpetrator from behind with a shotgun blast killing him instantly. With that shot, the hostage was released, and the carnage finally ended. The entire incident lasted only a few minutes.

There are reports that there may be some home video of the event. Tubbs seriously doubts that. Any camcorder would have been "smuggled" into the venue since cameras were forbidden per the terms of the band’s contract. Any available video images would probably come from low quality camera cell phones and would probably only be still photos. None have surfaced as of this writing, but the police may have any existing images impounded as evidence.

As you can see there is more to this story than has generally been reported. According to Jon and Tubbs there were AT LEAST SIX and possibly more TRUE HEROES that night at the Alrosa Villa club. Certainly the police officers risked their lives and deserve our thanks and accolades. Officer James D. Niggemeyer probably saved many lives by taking the intuitive and ending the bloodshed and should be duly honored for his heroics. So too should we honor Erin "Stoney" Halk (who Tubbs emotionally credits with saving his own life), Jeffrey "Mayhem" Thompson, Nathen Bray, Chris Paluska, and John "Kat" Brooks. Heroes all. Four Roadies and a Fan that disregarded their own safety to protect others. The surviving band members and the 250+ members of the audience may in fact owe their very lives to these heroes. I know Tubbs believes he does.

Tubbs and Jon are both having a hard time dealing with the memories of that night, and they both want to remain out of the public eye. I hope that everyone respects their wishes. They both felt however that a corrected version of this event was important and should be told so that the dead and wounded can be properly honored as heroes… hence this article.

They wanted me to tell everyone that both of them, as well as the entire Alrosa crew, the local Columbus stagehands, the Alrosa club owner and employees, and the family of Erin Halk all deeply appreciate the prayers, the condolences, and the outpouring of love that has been expressed this week in response to this senseless act. They would like everyone to continue to pray for the survivors, the victims, and the victim’s families (including the family of Nathan Gale).

Finally I asked Jon and Tubbs if they would stay in the entertainment business after this traumatic experience.

Without hesitation they both said… "Hell yes!"

Written by Karl Kuenning RFL


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – Karl Kuenning RFL 2004

From Blabbermouth:

SHADOWS FALL drummer Jason Bittner has issued the following report from the funeral services and public memorial for slain DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, which were held on Tuesday (Dec. 14) in Arlington, Texas:

"I have just gotten to my computer today after returning home from Dimebag Darrell Abbott’s funeral and I wanted to share what happened there with you all… Some of you were there, but a lot of you weren’t so I will try to not paint a morbid picture.

Tuesday, December 14:

6:30 a.m.: I board what appears to be a tuna can with propellers that I pray is going to safely get me to Baltimore

9:30 a.m.: Safely in Baltimore, I board my plane for Dallas.

12:30 p.m.: Arrive in Dallas and then grab cab to the Wyndam Arlington where I will be staying.

1:00 p.m.: Grab my room key, quickly bump into my good friend Charlie Benante who looks like everyone else I’m going to see for the next 12 hours…tired, pale, and bummed. Next I see Shaun from SOIL, who informs me I can cram in their van to go to the services (cool).

1:20 p.m.: Shower and go bother metal’s whitest black man Willie Gee (currently MEGADETH’s guitar tech) … who always seems to make me laugh.

2:30 p.m.: Me, Willie, Big Roger and everyone in SOIL head to the funeral home… It is here where anyone and everyone is here to pay their respects and (unfortunately under the circumstances) and say ‘Hello.’ Everyone’s here… DISTURBED, STATIC-X, some of the SLIPKNOT guys (whom after taking with Corey are VERY excited about our upcoming tour, so that rules). TYPE O NEGATIVE guys, Rex [Brown], Pepper Keenan, KITTIE, my buddy Dino (ex-FEAR FACTORY), ALICE IN CHAINS guys… The list is extensive. We finally head into the chapel to the strains of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY being played over the PA system, to find a HEAVILY flowered mass area, with Dime quietly laid out in his KISS coffin!!! Rockin’! As we all try to keep our composure, the services start with Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez from ALICE IN CHAINS, who come out to play some acoustic ALICE IN CHAINS tunes with another guitar player (whom I didn’t know), and Pat from DAMAGEPLAN singing as well… Very beautiful, not a dry eye in the house!! Next was Zakk’s speech where he told a very funny story about him and Dime drinking over four bottles of Crown (oh, my liver hurts just thinking about it) one day on Ozzfest, and then the two of them waking up in Zakk’s bunk together spooning!!!! Hey, Zakk said it, not me! Next was Charlie Benante’s very moving speech, he told some funny stories and just wanted everyone to remember what a great, funny dude Dime was… Lastly was no other than Eddie Van Halen… who had given Rita (Dime’s wife, pretty much) his actual old black/yellow Charvel for Dime to be buried with. It was pretty surreal!! So after the service ended, they asked if anyone wanted to view Dime one last time, to do so in an orderly fashion. Since i hadn’t been able to make the wake, I wanted to go… so I grabbed Willie and Bo (who was THE HAUNTED’s tour manger on this last tour) to go up with me. I was not prepared for what I was about to see. Dime looked fine, but what I then quickly noticed in the corner of his KISS casket was a small autographed splash cymbal that was put in the coffin 2 days prior… it was mine. I had given this to Dime a day before our tour ended as a memento, because he intially asked me for a pair of my sticks, so I went one better. Needless to say, I lost it… I started crying immediately (and I am right now just thinking about it) and tried to quickly walk away but Vinnie called out to me and came over to console me as best as he could, I saw Pat real quick and gave him a hug, but I had to get out. I only knew this man closely for 5 1/2 weeks, but it felt like a lot more than that.

"Outside I ran into Rat, who was one of DAMAGEPLAN’s tech’s on this last tour, we exchanged hugs and words, but it was nice to see he was still here. Right as we were about to leave I saw our buddy BEST DUDE… otherwise known as ‘The Kat’, Vinnie’s tech. To those who dont know, Kat was shot a few times on that unfortunate night, be looked great in his suit (yeah, imagine that) and he had a drink in his hand and was in good spirits.

5:30 p.m.: Back in the van, first stop, yup you guessed it, THE LIQUOR STORE… Let the buzz begin. We then went to a great seafood restaurant and had a party of about 25 people, shots all over the place, (EVEN WILLIE GEE DRANK 2 SHOTS!) good food, good times and David from DISTURBED paid for all of us! When I thanked him, he said ‘It’s what Dime woulda done!’ ‘I got plastic that goes for miles!!’ ? Dime. Anyways it was nice.

9:00 p.m.: Public memorial service at the Arlington Convention Center, what an event? The highlight was watching Eddie Van Halen taking the mike away from Zakk every time Zakk tried to finish his speech… I couldn’t help but think what he might have done if it wasn’t one of his heroes!!! Anyways, we had a good time remembering Dime for all the good stuff, and we shed more tears as well.

12:30 a.m. or so we got kicked out of the Convention Center, I do a quick interview with Denise and Juliya for ‘Uranium’, and then we go back to the hotel bar. By this point I had been paling around with my new comedian buddies Don Jamieson and Jim Flourentine the ‘Terrorizing Telemarketers’ guys, and some of you may know Jim as ‘Bobby Fletcher’ and ‘Special Ed’ from Crank Yankers. Two great dudes, who are big metalheads that brought some laughs at a needed time.

1:30 a.m.: Last call, I cram in a car with Don, Jim, and one of their friends to finish the party out over at Vinnie’s house. We arrive, Rita shows us to the bar, and I commence to go talk drum shit with Mike from DROWNING POOL and my good bud Charlie Benante (yes, there IS going to be a reunion tour w/ Joey ? shhhh). Jim had to get to the airport so we stayed ’till about 5 or so… but before leaving I talked with Rita (who seems to be doing really well right now) for awhile about the fact that Dime really liked our band, and really had a great time (Vinnie told me the same) on what turned out to be this final run, I told her I was flattered about the cymbal, and she said ‘It meant a lot to him’ ? still in shock over that!! She also said the ‘he adored Jon’ so that was really nice too!

5:30 a.m.: Drop Jim off at airport and conemplate calling my wife with a ‘Special Ed’ prank phone call, but we didn’t have time. Next time.

6:00 a.m.: Don drops me off at the hotel, I pop in Shaun from SOIL’s room for one last beer with him, Dino and Tony from STATIC-X.

10:30 a.m.: Willie frantically knocks on my door ‘C’mon Sarge you overslept!’)

11:00 a.m.: At the airport with a killer hangover… Worth it for ‘The Idol’

"So as I said, if you got this email, there’s a reason… Go buy a bottle of Crown Royal, pour a double for you, and one for Dime and knock it back….’GETCHA PULL!!’ and light a candle at Xmas for his memory, he’s in a better place, and he will be missed.

"I know I miss him."

Brett Shipp of WFAA-TV reports: A Dallas native who died in the brutal nightclub shootings in Columbus, Ohio last week was laid to rest in Arkansas on Thursday. [Watch Brett’s video report at this location]

Jeff Thompson, lovingly referred to as "Mayhem", was by all accounts was a giant of a man and, above all else, a hero.

The gregarious and robust figure, a regular at Scarborough Fair, often played with the band THE ROGUES and out-muscled everyone during Scottish games. He was a fixture not only on the renaissance scene, but in Deep Ellum in Dallas where he partied, worked as a bouncer and made friends.

"He was the type of person, he had a place in his heart and his mind for every detail of every friend he ever had," said friend Stephen Van Hecke. "You don’t find friends like that."

The "gentle giant" ? who some said was six foot seven ? was also a bodyguard for the Dallas band DAMAGEPLAN, and last week courageously put himself between the band, the fans and a gun.

"Before he left here he said, ‘I would take a bullet for those guys,’" said Van Hecke. "He said that to me, he really did."

Sandy Hall is just one of hundreds in the Deep Ellum entertainment district who are not only shocked by his death, but moved to pay tribute. Up and down the street, clubs and restaurants are toasting his memory, sharing their own and chipping in to help pay for a funeral the family cannot afford.

"It’s like losing a son and a brother and a father and a friend … it’s really, really hard," said Coyote Ugly manager Sandy Hall.

For those unable to verbally express their loss, this inscription of tribute seem to summarize the feelings of many: "May God bless you Mayhem, and may you protect us all from above as you did down here."

Shannon Bray, sister of of Nathan Bray, one of the four victims of last week’s nightclub shooting in Columbus, Ohio, has sent the following message to BLABBERMOUTH.NET:

"I am Nathan’s sister, Shannon. I want to thank everybody for their support. I’m sad this had to happen, but glad people have come together to ease the pain a little. My brother was the BEST. There are few people like him in this world I’m so proud and looking back, know he would have did the same thing over. He’s loved by all and will be greatly missed. I will make sure Anthony [Nathan’s son] knows what a hero his daddy was. I appreciate Nate’s friends for chatting and letting others know this great man. No enemies, loved by everybody that knew him. Reading the outpouring of support makes me feel a lot better. Nate had tons of friends and if they want to talk, I’m there.

"There is a scholarship fund for Anthony if anyone would like to contribute:

The Anthony Bray Scholarship Fund
c/o The Citizens Bank
120 S. Court ST
Circleville, OH 43113

"Thanks again."

As previously reported, Nathan Bray was killed when he jumped up on stage and and tried to perform CPR on guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott after he was shot by a longtime fan of his former group, PANTERA.

"When (Bray) looked up at the shooter that’s when the shooter shot him," Adam Vanover, 45, of Bellefontaine said.

Witnesses and police said a group of people tried to help those who had been shot after Abbott’s band DAMAGEPLAN began playing at Alrosa Villa on Dec. 8. Police shot and killed the gunman, Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville.

Bray’s funeral was held Saturday (Dec. 11) in his hometown of Circleville, about 30 miles south of Columbus.

As a slain guitarist’s fans gathered in Texas to honor their favorite performer, a mother mourned in private in Ohio, knowing that her son is responsible for four deaths, NBC 4’s Holly Hollingsworth reported.

Thousands of people turned out for a memorial Tuesday for "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was shot and killed Dec. 8 along with three other people at his band DAMAGEPLAN’s concert at Alrosa Villa in Columbus. Nathan Gale (photo) committed the murders, and was killed himself by a policeman during the incident.

Meanwhile, funeral plans and the burial site of Gale, 25, of Marysville, are shrouded in secrecy.

Gale’s mother, Mary Clark, spoke exclusively Wednesday with NBC 4 about her son and the incident that unfolded last week.

The one thing Clark repeated over and over was her apology to the victims and the families left behind, Hollingsworth reported.

Clark said Gale lives in her memory as a beloved son.

"We were pretty close," Clark said.

Clark confirmed to NBC 4 that her son suffered from a mental illness. She said he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic last year when he was sent home from the Marine Corps on an early medical discharge.

"And I still didn’t understand the whole thing, but he came home with his medications, and I don’t know if he took them or not," Clark said.

Gale hardly talked with his mother about the diagnosis after that, Hollingsworth reported.

"I don’t know if he was afraid to, or … ashamed to, or … didn’t believe it himself," Clark said.

Clark said her son’s fixation on the band PANTERA peaked about eight years ago when he was in high school.

"He had it in his head that those were his lyrics," Clark said of PANTERA’s music. "And nobody was going to change his mind."

Clark said she told her son it was nonsense. She said he had not brought up the band to her in the years since.

Clark said that while Gale was fixated on PANTERA in high school, Clark thought that problem stemmed from some drug issues, which she believed her son had since worked through.

"It seemed like he … he put it out of his mind," Clark said. "It seemed like, OK, everything was better."

It was only with last week’s shooting that Clark realized everything was not better, Hollingsworth reported.

"Maybe I wasn’t looking for it," Clark said. "Maybe I wasn’t in tune, you know? I should have been looking for signs, and I didn’t."

But to Officer James Niggemeyer, who she says had no choice but to shoot and kill her son, she said thanks.

"I commend that man for saving the lives of others," Clark said.

Perhaps the greatest weight on Clark’s heart and mind is what she knows about the handgun her son used in the shooting, Hollingsworth reported.

"When he came home for Christmas the year he was in the service, I was so proud of that man for cleaning up his life the way he did," Clark said. "And I bought him that gun. I’ll never, never be able to live that part down."

Clark said Gale’s mental health diagnosis came after the gun purchase.

Clark believed giving her son the gun was OK because he was a Marine and because he wanted to have a nice sidearm. She said she did not think he ever carried it.

Clark said she never saw any dangerous side to her son that might have made her try to get the gun back.

Clark has spent the past week searching for answers about why her son would kill, Hollingsworth reported.

"I have such remorse for those families, and I am so sorry that they are losing their loved ones," Clark said. "Their sons, brothers, fathers."

The only beginnings of answers Clark said she can offer come from notebooks she found in her son’s apartment this week.

In one, Gale wrote that two things got him to where he is. One was that he "could not see [his] own thoughts".

"And the other is, ‘Growing up not knowing my own thoughts,’ " Clark said. "This is what I think paranoid schizophrenia really is."

Clark said she continues to struggle with what happened, and wonders what more she could have done.

"You don’t know until you’re there," she said. "Until somebody’s sitting here, with their son, doing something so horrific. They’ll never know."

Jennifer Wray of Columbus, Ohio’s Suburban News Publications reports:

Guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott told Kevin McMeans that a photograph of the two of them taken last Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 8) "would be a classic."

McMeans said Abbott, who normally dressed casually, was referring to his outfit ? which last Wednesday afternoon included a leopard-print jacket.

But the comment took on another meaning in the wake of Abbott’s shooting death that night. Abbott and four other people were shot to death in the Alrosa Villa that night.

McMeans, a 26-year-old Hilliard resident, is an avid collector of musicians’ photographs and autographs. Dimebag and his brother, Vinnie Paul Abbott, also of DAMAGEPLAN, were the only members of PANTERA he had yet to snag a picture of.

So, within minutes of his last college final ending Wednesday afternoon, McMeans arrived at the Alrosa Villa, 5055 Sinclair Road.

After chatting with a guitar tech for more than an hour, he found success. Dimebag was friendly and meeting the Abbott brothers left him "starstruck," McMeans said.

Similarly, Adam Vanover, 25, of Bellefontaine, came to the Alrosa hoping to hear his rock hero perform and to get an autograph from Dimebag.

Band members told him to go to the tour bus after the show to get his guitar signed. Instead, he spent part of the evening with friend Nathan Heiberger, 27, of Bellefontaine and about 15 other people huddled behind a pillar in the club’s VIP section.

They were 20 feet away from the stage where Marysville resident Nathan Gale, 25, took aim at the crowd after shooting Dimebag.

"There were shots going everywhere…( Gale) just flipped out," Heiberger said.

"All I could hear was feedback and gunfire ? I thought it was fake," Vanover said.

"When the police came, I realized, ‘This ain’t no joke.’"

Hilliard resident Jeff Greene, 19, is a member of TWELVE GAUGE, one of the evening’s opening bands,. He said he was thrilled to play with a longtime idol.

He said he, too, first thought the shooting was a prank, a part of DAMAGEPLAN’s act. When Greene realized otherwise, he said, he rushed the stage.

Greene said Gale asked him to find his glasses, using his 9-millimeter gun to gesture downward. When he stepped back to look for the glasses, Greene said, Gale shot his gun, nearly grazing him with the bullet.

"I said, ‘What are you doing? I’m trying to help you,’" Greene said.

Shortly afterward, he said, Columbus patrol officer James Niggemeyer shot Gale, who by that time was holding a hostage at the rear of the stage.

In the aftermath, Greene and an officer tried to help Dimebag, who "kept squeezing my hand," Greene said.

He said it wasn’t until he later stepped out into the parking lot that he realized his hands were covered in Dimebag’s blood.

Hilliard resident Eric Sanders, 24, said once he heard media reports describing Gale, he realized he saw him in the Alrosa’s parking lot before the concert.

"He just looked like somebody who was there for the show," he said.

A photo gallery showing the above-mentioned picture, the Alrosa Villa club and the vigil in Dimebag’s honor can be viewed at this location.

(Thanks: Jason Bodak)

A memorial fund has been created to aid help cover bereavement and medical expenses for DAMAGEPLAN’s head of security, Jeffrey "Mayhem" Thompson, and two other band employees injured in last week’s shooting that resulted in the death of the group’s guitarist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. Checks can be sent to The Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund at 110 SW Thomas, Burleson, TX, 76028, USA

Fans can also make a donation in Abbott’s name to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, which works to restore music education programs in schools. Contributions can be made by mail to 1515 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10036 or via phone at (888) 841-4687.

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R.I.P. Dimebag

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