December 8th 2004, the world lost a legend. Pantera and Damageplan guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was murdered seventeen years ago today, and the site of the incident is no more. The Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, has officially been demolished. A 180-unit fully affordable apartment community will be erected on the site where Dimebag and three other people were killed by a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Nathan Gale.
On the night of December 8, 2004, Gale jumped a fence surrounding a patio outside the club as Damageplan began playing its first song. He then walked through the crowd and entered the stage from behind a stack of amplifiers. He pulled a handgun and shot Abbott in the head, then turned the gun on those who tried to intervene. Gale was killed by police officer James D. Niggemeyer, who arrived on the scene minutes after Gale began his rampage. Officer Niggemeyer fatally shot Gale as Gale held a gun to band technician John Brooks’s head.
According to The Pulse Of Radio, Gale seemed to deliberately target Abbott, leading to speculation that the young man, who had a history of mental illness, held a grudge against Abbott and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, for the break-up of Pantera in 2002. Columbus police closed their investigation in October of 2005 without establishing a motive for the shootings.
Dimebag’s death was a devastating blow to the close-knit hard rock and metal community. He was known to his fellow musicians for his hospitality, friendship and partying spirit, and was a legend among fans and peers for his powerful, innovative and unmistakable playing style. Damageplan crew member Jeffrey Thompson, club security guard Erin Halk and audience member Nathan Bray also were killed. Band manager Christopher Paluska and band technician John Brooks were wounded.