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)