Alabama pyrotechnics wizard Tom DeWille, 1 other killed in longstanding feud, police say

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Luna Tech’s Tom DeWille in 2019

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Thomas “Tom” DeWille, one of the inventors of indoor concert pyrotechnics used by bands like Kiss, was killed Monday along with another man when a family feud erupted in violence, authorities said. He was 76.

Also killed was Rollan Frank Edwards, 75, of Prospect Mountain in Cullman County, the site of the violence. A third person, Jody Jay Tudor, 48, also of Prospect Mountain was wounded and is now hospitalized. The victims had both knife and gunshot wounds, authorities said.

Thomas “Tom” DeWille, one of the inventors of indoor concert pyrotechnics used by bands like Kiss, was killed Monday along with another man when a family feud erupted in violence, authorities said. He was 76.

Also killed was Rollan Frank Edwards, 75, of Prospect Mountain in Cullman County, the site of the violence. A third person, Jody Jay Tudor, 48, also of Prospect Mountain was wounded and is now hospitalized. The victims had both knife and gunshot wounds, authorities said.

Sheriff Gentry said all of the men “were very familiar with other” and the violence related to “something that had happened in the past.” He would not elaborate.

DeWille was credited with creating several of the innovations that made indoor concert pyrotechnics possible. Those innovations included a safe way to transport flammable material and a controller to safely set off the detonations in time with music being played on stage.

Kiss, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi were among the major acts to use the services of Dewille’s company during the 1980s. After he left that business, DeWille’s company Luna Tech continued to manufacture pyrotechnics for other users in Owens Cross Roads outside Huntsville. He still lived in Owens Cross Roads at the time of his death.

“It’s a tragic end to an incredible person with an amazing career,” former business partner David Milly said Tuesday.

Milly said It is incredible that pyrotechnics for Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi and Kiss were run out of Huntsville, Ala., involving a company created by a guy who worked for NASA, Milly said.

DeWille was a “lunar technician” who worked in testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Milly said, but his name badge shortened that to “lunar tech.” He vowed then to name his company “Luna Tech,” Milly said.

In its early days, the company honed many of its skills providing technical support for concerts and other events at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

But it did not operate without tragedy and questions. Multiple people died in accidents, and others were injured, at the company DeWille once owned. DeWille himself was critically injured in an accident before his retirement from the firm in 2002.

 

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