Gunman rushes stage, "Dimebag" Darrell among dead.

Damageplan had just begun its second-to-last show on a 60-date tour when a gunman rushed the stage at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, last night (Dec. 9), killing guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and three other people before being killed by a policeman.

Witnesses say Damageplan had just begun its first song shortly after 10 p.m. when the man opened fire, shooting Abbott multiple times at close range. Sources tell Billboard that Jeff Thompson, who provides security for the band, was also shot and killed.

The band's drum tech John "Kat" Brooks and tour manager Chris Paluska are recovering from gunshot wounds, a source tells Billboard.

Press reports say that among those killed was 29-year-old Erin Halk, who worked at Alrosa Villa loading equipment.

Active rock WBZX Columbus afternoon jock Scoop Richards was at the concert. "They had just begun playing," he says. "I heard some loud pops over the music, and somebody said, 'That's gunfire.' We dove to the floor, and when the initial flurry of shots stopped, we ran to a secure area of the bar."

Richards was joined by drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, Darrell's brother, who ran back to the stage as soon as the shooting stopped. Richards adds that enough people thought the shooting was part of the show that the gunman had time to reload a clip.

The other band members, vocalist Patrick Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla, were reportedly uninjured.

Damageplan had been on the road since March in support of its debut album, "New Found Power" (Elektra), which was released in February. The band is booked by Scott Sokol at Pinnacle Entertainment and managed by Paul Bassman. The tour was to wrap Dec. 11 in Kansas City, Mo., at the Uptown Theater.

One of metal's top guitarists, Darrell, 38, and Vinnie formed Pantera in Texas in the early '80s. The band put out several albums on a small independent label before signing with EastWest.

Pantera's 1990 major-label debut, "Cowboys From Hell," put the band on the map nationally, and 1992's "Vulgar Display of Power"—considered by many to be the definitive Pantera album—cemented its status as one of metal's premier acts.

The band attracted a massive cult following, and its third release, "Far Beyond Driven," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in 1994. Pantera garnered two Grammy Award nominations for best metal performance, in 1995 for "I'm Broken" and in 2001 for "Revolution Is My Name." The band's last album was 2000's "Reinventing the Steel."

After Pantera officially disbanded in 2003, Darrell and Vinnie formed Damageplan. Its debut single, "Save Me," peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Radio Monitor active rock chart, while follow-up "Pride" reached No. 27.