Just before their show on Oct. 19 at the Deep Ellum Art Co., two members of the Arkansas indie rock band Brother Moses caught someone breaking into their van.
The evening ended with the loss of something much more valuable than stolen goods.
Drummer Corey Dill chased after one of two unidentified men who'd broken into the van. Dill suffered severe injuries when the pair ran over him with their getaway vehicle as they fled, according to members of the group.
"It's totally devastating and heartbreaking that this ended up happening over something so petty, and I think Corey did exactly what any of us would've done in that snap moment and try to stop them," says the band's guitar player and singer James Lockhart.
The break-in occurred around 8:30 p.m. in an alley behind the Deep Ellum venue. Guitarist Moses Gomez says he and Dill were walking back to the venue from dinner to perform their set while singer Brody Price performed an opening set for the band's show.
Gomez says they saw someone "who was not one of the four of us" in their tour van parked on Murray Street carrying what appeared to be Dill's backpack, which contained his laptop computer.
"I remember Corey looked at me with this very confused look on his face and we started running after [the robber]," Gomez says.
The two chased the unidentified man, who was wearing a red hat and black pants, to a black truck at the end of the alley. Dill caught up to the truck but it started to pull away just as he got near it. Moses says it looked like the vehicle ran over Dill's foot, leg and back. He called 911 from his cell phone.
"Moses let the rest of us know right after he called 911 that Corey was hurt and we needed to come over there," Lockhart says. "They left the show and went to be with him. We had no idea what had happened."
Deep Ellum Art Co. owner John LaRue drove the group to Baylor Medical Center's emergency room, where paramedics took Dill for treatment. Josh Rubin, a friend of the band in attendance at the show who works at Baylor, was able to get Dill's bandmates into his hospital room.
"He's talking to us and he comes up to me and somehow, I don't know how, he heard that something happened and he said, 'I work at the ER they're going to take him to. Do you want me to come and try and help him in some way?'" guitarist and keyboardist John-Lewis Anderson says of Rubin. "It ended up being great because when James and I went to the ER, they weren't gonna let us in because none of us are family."
Dill's injuries are extensive. Lockhart says Dill sustained a fractured pelvis, numerous facial lacerations and fractures to his nose, teeth, temporal bone and clavicle.
"He had a deep laceration on his left eyebrow, and it's very obvious his nose was broken," Lockhart says. "His clothes were ripped up and shredded. He's very lucid, and he's still with us."
Anderson says the band has canceled the remaining tour dates on their schedule because they "just want to focus on getting Corey well."
Some neighboring business owners who heard the commotion also rushed out to offer aid to Dill while the paramedics drove to the scene. Dill's backpack contained a metal water bottle that fell out during the chase, alerting some of the neighboring business owners to the scene, Gomez says.
Security cameras located around the area by neighboring businesses caught footage of the man who robbed the band's van and the getaway vehicle.
"One shot from the camera got the license plate, but it's blurry," says Brother Moses bassist and singer Lucas Templin, who reviewed the security camera footage. "We're hoping police can use that."
Nearby businesses were able to provide police investigators with footage of the man in the red hat who robbed the van as well as his accomplice, and of the black GMC Sierra extended cab pickup truck in which they drove away.
Dill will require several surgeries to fix his injuries, the most serious of which so far is his broken pelvis.
"He's an extremely tough person," Lockhart says of Dill. "We're so proud of him. He has kept the most cheerful disposition despite the circumstances. He's been really happy each time someone new is able to swap out and come see him. He's doing really well and making good progress. He's stable."
Lockhart says this is the second time someone has tried break into a touring vehicle for the band. The first time happened during a stop for a show in Anaheim, California, when someone broke into their vehicle and trailer and stole all of the group's instruments and equipment.
"This is unfortunately a really common occurrence for touring artists," Lockhart says. "Just having your stuff stolen at random times when you don't expect it."