Seminal Guitarist, 4 Others Die in Ohio Shooting
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – A man charged on stage and opened fire at a heavy metal band and fans at a crowded bar, killing four people and wounding two others before being killed by police, officials said on Thursday.
Among the dead was “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, guitarist for the band Damageplan, who witnesses said appeared to have been singled out by the gunman and shot several times at close range.
Some witnesses told police the 25-year-old gunman, Nathan Gale of nearby Marysville, Ohio, shouted, “You broke up Pantera” before gunning down Abbott and firing at other band members and the crowd in the Wednesday night shooting.
Pantera was a hot Grammy-nominated ‘thrash’ metal band in the mid-1990s that Abbott, 38, and his brother, drummer Vinnie (Paul) Abbott, formed in the 1980s. The group, from Texas, had a bitter breakup after their last album in 2000, and the Abbotts formed Damageplan, which was on tour when the shooting happened.
“There was no connection between (Gale) and the band, at least formally. We do not know the motive and maybe never will. He is dead,” Columbus Police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mall told reporters outside the club, the Alrosa Villa.
Gale fired more than a dozen shots both at the band and the crowd of roughly 200 patrons, at one point stopping to reload his handgun with an ammunition clip, police said.
A police officer confronted Gale as he held a hostage in a headlock and was apparently attempting to flee, Mall said. The officer, James Niggemeyer, killed Gale as the hostage, who was not harmed, struggled to get out of the way.
“We believe he saved other lives” by shooting the gunman, he said.
Two people who were wounded were taken to a hospital.
The band was playing the first song of its set when the gunman, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, charged the stage and began shouting and shooting, witnesses said. Some members of the audience initially thought the intruder might have been part of the band’s act.
Pantera topped the U.S. album charts with its 1994 release, “Far Beyond Driven,” which also yielded a Grammy nomination.
“Dimebag” Abbott’s guitar work made him a “seminal figure in modern speed metal,” one who was influenced by the likes of Kiss’ Ace Frehley and the late Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, said Michael Molenda, editor-in-chief at Guitar Player magazine.
In the early 1980s, speed metal became the most popular form of heavy metal in the American underground. Crossing the New Wave of British heavy metal with hardcore U.S. punk, speed metal was extremely fast, abrasive and technically demanding.
Led by Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer, this new wave of metal bands stood in direct contrast with the pop-oriented “glam” metal that dominated the charts during the 1980s, and they cultivated dedicated followings, according to the Web site
Pantera’s songs were played regularly at the arena of the National Hockey League Dallas Stars during the team’s 1999 championship season, and the Abbott brothers were friends with several team members.
Former hockey player Guy Carbonneau, the Stars assistant general manager, issued a statement saying: “I was horrified to hear the news of last night’s events and it never ceases to amaze me how hurtful and violent people can be. My condolences go out to the family and I wish all of those involved a speedy recovery.”
After Pantera’s break-up, the brothers formed Damageplan with singer Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla. The band’s debut album, “New Found Power” — hailed for its “violent dissonance” by Blender magazine — hit No. 38 on the U.S. charts earlier this year.