On December 8, 2004, Abbott was shot onstage while performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio.

The gunman was Nathan Gale,[5][13] who shot Abbott six times, including four times in the head, killing him instantly. Gale then continued shooting, killing four others and wounding a further seven. Gale fired a total of fifteen shots, stopping to reload once and remaining silent throughout the shooting.

Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, the band's head of security, was killed tackling Gale, as was Alrosa Villa employee Erin Halk. Audience member Nathan Bray was killed while trying to perform CPR on Dimebag and Mayhem. It was rumored that one crowd member leaped in front of the gunman, saving the lives of several band members.[14] Damageplan drum technician, John "Kat" Brooks, was shot three times as he attempted to get the gun away from Gale, but was overpowered and taken hostage in a headlock position. Tour manager Chris Paluska was also injured.