TAMPA — The lead guitarist for the Tampa-based death metal band Cannibal Corpse was arrested Monday after a fire at his Northdale home turned the suburban neighborhood into a chaotic hellscape of explosions and confusion seemingly ripped from the band's lyrics.
Patrick O’Brien, 53, was booked into the Hillsborough County jail that night on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and burglary of an occupied dwelling with assault. Deputies say he burglarized a house and charged at a deputy with a knife.
Less than a half-mile away, on the other side of the golf course at the Northdale Golf & Tennis Club, firefighters battled rounds of exploding ammunition ignited by a massive fire inside O’Brien’s rental home.
At a first appearance hearing Tuesday morning, a Hillsborough County judge told the rocker, clad in an anti-suicide vest with his hands and ankles chained together, that he must first pass a drug test before he will be allowed to post $50,000 bail and leave jail.
According to his arrest report, O’Brien entered a home in the 4700 block of Windflower Circle near the golf club just before 7 p.m. on Monday. O’Brien didn’t know anyone at the home and didn’t have permission to be there, the report said, but when the two residents inside the home asked him to leave he ignored them.
When the couple continued to yell for him to leave, O’Brien pushed a woman in the home to the ground and ran to the backyard, the report said. Deputies arrived at the scene after the couple called 911 to report a burglary and found O’Brien hiding behind a fence near the backyard. A deputy reported that he gave O’Brien “multiple commands” to surrender before O’Brien suddenly left his hiding place and ran toward the deputy with a knife. He was shocked multiple times with a Taser before being placed in handcuffs.
At the same time he was being arrested, neighbors and firefighters watched a large fire overtake the home he had been renting in the 16000 block of Norwood Drive, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Eric Seidel said.
Firefighters responded to multiple 911 calls from neighbors who reported that the fire began after an apparent domestic dispute. But they had to flee the home a few moments after entering, yelling that live ammunition burning in the flames had begun to explode, Seidel said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office later said in a tweet that two military-style flame throwers were found inside the house.
Crews had the fire under control in about an hour, but remained at the scene throughout the night to ensure the flames didn’t spread to neighboring homes, Seidel said. It’s unclear if anyone was home at the time the fire erupted, but no injuries were reported. Investigators were still processing the scene Tuesday evening and were not expected to release any more information about what caused the fire until Wednesday, Seidel said. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also opened an investigation.
Cannibal Corpse was formed in 1988 in Buffalo, N.Y., and launched their career with an album recorded at Morrisound Studios in Temple Terrace.
The band has released 14 albums, according to its website, with song titles such as Bloodstained Cement and Icepick Lobotomy.
Reached by a Tampa Bay Times reporter on Tuesday, Andy Turner and Nikki Law from Cannibal Corpse's management team at Metal Blade Records declined to comment.
O'Brien's arrest came the day after the band announced it secured a spot as an opening act for legendary thrash metal band Slayer on the North American leg of their farewell tour. Cannibal Corpse band members and management were silent Tuesday about if or how O'Brien's arrest could affect their spot on the tour, which boasts an all-star lineup of heavy music.
Slayer's Final Tour is slated to stop at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on May 10.