December 9, 2004 in City

Man opens fire on band at Ohio nightclub; 5 dead

Jay Cohen Associated Press
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A man walked onstage in a crowded nightclub during a rock concert Wednesday night and opened fire on the band, killing at least four people and wounding at least two others. The gunman then began firing into the crowd before he was shot to death by police, authorities said.

Members of the heavy metal band Damageplan had just begun their first song at the Alrosa Villa when the man opened fire, initially targeting guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, a witness said. According to the band’s Web site, Abbott and another member, drummer Vinnie Paul, played for the heavy metal band Pantera.

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 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. 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 gunman.

“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.”

Mull wouldn’t confirm the identities of the victims. He said more people could have been shot and left the scene before authorities arrived.

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.

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

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

© Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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