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‘A Vulgar Display of Power’ Book Focuses on All Who Were Slain at the AlRosa

As we reflect on the five-year anniversary of one of the metal scene’s greatest losses — that of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell — we are reminded of that fateful night by many factors. ‘A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the AlRosa Villa,’ a nearly-300 page, meticulously researched book about the night that Dime was murdered along with three other innocents, was written by former serviceman Chris A.

The book’s point of view doesn’t focus squarely on the late, great Dimebag and the mental demons that pushed his murderer to do his dastardly deed. Rather, Chris A. shone his spotlight on all who were lost that night, including the security personnel — both band and venue — and the fan who lost their lives trying to save others.

“I remember the morning after the murders distinctly, as I was driving to work and heard the news on the radio that Dimebag Darrell Abbott and three other people were murdered during a concert by Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio,” Chris A. told Noisecreep, about how the seed of the idea for the book was planted. “The immediate ‘motive’ tossed out for the killings by the media was of a disgruntled fan angry that Pantera broke up, so he decided to kill Dimebag. The story stayed in the papers and was on the news for a few weeks, and then effectively slipped from the headlines as it became old news.

“11 months after the murder, the police investigation was released but the media never covered its contents. Consequently, fans and family members of those murdered were left with a collection of guesses and media speculation about what really happened. The most disturbing fact was the media’s focus specifically on the murderer and Dimebag. The fact that three other men died was glossed over and the facts around the deaths of Jeff Thompson, Erin Halk and Nathan Bray remained in the shadows.”

Chris A.’s initial question then became how were these other men killed? It burned in his mind, as he wondered what actually happened. The author said, “Were they simply sitting at the bar and took an errant round from the killer’s gun? The truth was amazing, inspiring and pretty much cast aside. Jeff Thompson, Erin Halk and Nathan Bray died trying to save lives. Each of these men recognized that they were facing an armed man who had just killed someone, yet they acted. Were it not for the courage and heroism of Thompson, a member of Damageplan’s security, almost certainly the killer would have murdered Dime’s brother, Vinnie Paul Abbott.

“Nathan Bray, a fan, climbed onto the stage to give CPR to people he had never met. He tried to help and save lives. The 23-year-old skinny father of a three-year-old was no threat to the armed 270-pound murderer, yet as he was giving CPR, his eyes met those of the killer and moments later, a 9mm bullet shattered his sternum and took the life away. Erin Halk, a former Marine and security member for the Alrosa, agonized for three minutes as he tried to figure out a way to cease the carnage. At a point where the killer was reloading ammo, Halk made his move, rushing the killer in the hopes of overpowering him and freeing a hostage. Sadly, as he advanced, the killer lowered his weapon and fired five shots into Erin’s body, killing him.”

The book, which was written over a 14-month period, beginning in December 2005, a year after the tragedy, goes into detail about the killer and what happened that fateful night.

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