Looking back on 2016, one story in music sticks out more than any other. No, not the passing of glam rock legend David Bowie. It’s the tragic murder of former The Voice contestant, Christina Grimmie, 22, who was killed earlier this year while signing autographs for fans during a meet and greet post concert event in Orlando, Florida at the Plaza Live on June 10th. A deranged fan with a secret obsession for the young singer somehow was able to get past security with multiple handguns and a knife. He walked up to a smiling Christina Grimmie and shot her in the head at point blank range before killing himself.
Christina was a fan of all types of music, not just pop. In an interview she did back in 2010, the rising singer confessed that she was actually a big fan of heavy metal music and bands like PANTERA.
“I’m also a big metal fan: Metallica, PANTERA, Iron Maiden. Even like Aerosmith, the rock and roll kind of stuff. I have a broad range pretty much. I have giant green headphones that I listen to, so for me the heavier the better.”
Late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, who was also murdered by a mentally ill fan that had been stalking he and his brother Vinnie Paul back in December of 2004, was a very friendly, down to earth person who appeared ‘larger than life’ to his fans, much like young Christina did to hers.
PANTERA’s management posted the following message on Facebook about Christina’s death immediately after the tragedy took place:
“We are so sad and disappointed to hear that Christina Grimmie was gunned down the same way that Dimebag Darrell was. After Dime’s murder, we all prayed that our industry (i.e. club owners & promoters) would do whatever they needed to do to protect artists from gun wielding fanatics. Sadly, that’s not the case and another rising star had to pay the consequences with her life. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!”
Indeed nothing has changed. In fact, today shootings at music venues are on the rise. What can we do to stop this kind of thing from happening again?
Only 2 days later, on June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old man killed 49 people at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida…
Maybe if venues and the security paid to protect the musicians were held accountable in some way for their negligence and basic failure to protect them and the fans in attendance then this sort of thing would stop happening. The security hired to protect Christina Grimmie that night were reportedly more concerned with handing out water bottles than checking the crowd for a crazy person. Start making people be accountable and then this tragic stuff will not happen. Same thing with Dimebag, had one person actually did their job being security that night, then the gunman would have never been allowed inside the venue in the first place.
The onus, however, is truly on you the music fan yourself to be more vigilant and aware of the people in your surroundings while attending a concert of any kind. Pay closer attention to any possible ‘red flags’ that could help stop another senseless gun murder. If someone is acting crazy, or maybe appearing to be ‘too stoic’, keep an eye on them and/or notify an employee of the venue. The hotel clerk who checked in Christina’s killer noted to investigators that the man appeared to act ‘strangely’. Christina’s killer, like Dimebag, was also obviously someone that suffered from some form of mental illness. Even the killer’s best friend expressed concern about his unhealthy infatuation for the pop singer to his supervisor at the job they shared together. If you are a family member or a co-worker of someone that is showing ‘signs’ that they may have issues and needs professional help, do something about it and tell somebody. And when you are the person in charge being told this info go straight to the authorities.
It is time we stop talking about gun control and start talking about ‘people control’. Mental health problems in America continue to not be taken seriously. We must spend more time dealing with the problem at its root. More and more young people are diagnosed with schizophrenia today than ever before and yet mental hospitals continue to be closed down at an alarming rate. And why are we allowing homeless mentally ill to walk the streets among innocent civilians? Are they not a danger to society? Not to mention themselves? Nothing will stop this from happening to another talented musician like Christina and Dime, not unless we start making changes to how we operate. We the people are the only ones that can make a difference.