UFC welterweight fighter Matt Brown has shared his eyewitness account of the murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbott in 2004.
The former Pantera guitarist was gunned down by Nathan Gale during a Damegeplan concert in Columbus, Ohio. Three others died and seven more were wounded before an off-duty police officer ended the slaughter by killing Gale.
Brown, who’d been suspended from work in a nearby food factory for turning up late too often, hadn’t known Damageplan were playing and only went to the show because he had nothing else to do.
He tells UFC On Fox in the video below: “All of a sudden the guitar started messing up and the song started fading. I saw Vinnie Paul stopping and putting his sticks down. I looked over – I saw everybody looking over towards Dimebag. Dimebag was on the ground. I hadn’t heard any shots but I saw some blood and I thought he’d been stabbed.
“We rushed the stage – ‘Come on, let’s get this dude.’ About that time a security guard knocked me over and a guy started shooting everyone in the crowd. I started to run away; there was a big pillar and I got behind it.”
Brown admits his next move might have been stupid, but he’d decided: “‘I’m not going to run from this guy; I’m not going to get shot in the back.’” He continues: “He was shooting for ever and I didn’t even know where the exit was. I was like, ‘I’m at least going to stand and face the guy.’ As the thought was going through my head there was a person standing right next to me that got shot.
“I thought, ‘Somebody’s got to do something.’ It can’t be as fast as it happened in my mind, but I remember looking over and at the back door was the off-duty cop with a shotgun, and he shot the guy.”
The fighter left the venue and wandered around the car park, asking himself if he’d really seen what had just happened. Then he went back inside and remember: “I saw Dimebag laying on the floor with his guitar in his hand, bloody as fuck.”
Brown attended a memorial ceremony a few days later, and tells of an incident he believes Abbott would have enjoyed. “It was freezing cold, and this guy runs naked with beers in his hand, sprinting through the whole thing, and there’s cops chasing him.
“He’s like, ‘Long live Dimebag!’ I was thinking, ‘This is sweet – Dimebag would love it.’ They put him in the cop van and he was mooning the crowd as they were driving by. It was perfect for what Dimebag would want – so props to that guy.”