In a recent interview with “No F*ckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn,” ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello spoke up on the murder of his brother Anthony, who was shot and killed in 1996 at the age of 23.
Bello is promoting a book titled Fathers, Brothers, and Sons: Surviving Anguish, Abandonment, and Anthrax, in which he talks about his family’s tragedy in detail. You can order his book from Amazon here.
“March 25th, 1996, I’m in my house with my friend, Paul, he’s upstairs sleeping. We were doing some ANTHRAX stuff, and I hear somebody running up the stairs banging on my door,” Frank said (as transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar.com) “It’s Charlie [Benante, Anthrax drummer] — my uncle Charlie who’s in the band ANTHRAX — screaming, ‘Frank, open the door!’ — just freaking the f*ck out.
“I open the door, I said, ‘What the f*ck is going on?! You OK?’ He goes, ‘You got to come with me!’… I’m sorry, it’s still hard to talk about it, even after 1996 — it was 25 years ago… Anthony‘s been shot, my brother Anthony has been shot. He’s dead… I fell, on the floor. I didn’t see it coming — nobody sees that coming. I didn’t see me passing out and just f*cking freaking out, I just went down, they picked me up, crying… the whole thing.
“Charlie drives me down to the scene, and this is in the Bronx, New York. It happened where we grew up, I was in Westchester in my townhouse at the time. So he drives me down, I’m crying — I didn’t know how to take this.
“So we go to the scene, and it looks like a Law and Order scene — if you’ve seen the show. Cops everywhere, ambulances, a crowd of people, there’s a sheet, I see it from afar when I get out of the car… And it’s my brother underneath the sheet. I only knew it was my brother because I saw the sheet didn’t cover his shoes, and I knew his shoes. So I knew it was him, and that was my validation of what was going on, and reality check was right there.
He continued: “I turned over, I turned around and I see my mom, who’s at the scene. I didn’t know she was there — just, everything you can imagine… Just, sorrow, the face of sorrow, just beaten, just beating down, crying, she’s in disbelief. There’s no other words for that, so I just go and hug her, and really, there’s nothing you could say, you just hug. There’s no verbalization, there’s nothing you can say verbally that comes out. I don’t know what to say, so I guess we just hugged for a long time…
“Here’s what happened. My brother had some words with some guy at a coffee shop — I guess that this guy, they had words before. Long story short, it hurt this guy, he knew he was gonna be there – I can’t mention names – they had some words again, and he took out a gun, put three bullets in him on the street. There were no witnesses, it was outside a coffee shop in the Bronx, as simple as that sounds, yeah.
“I get down there, I’m asking, I’m screaming at this point after I hug my mother, ‘I want to know f*cking answers!’ I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, I’m yelling at every cop there, every detective. Finally, the detective who’s in charge of the case comes up to me, tries to calm me down and all that sh*t, I said, ‘Who the f*ck..?’ – all that sh*t, everything you can imagine you would do. You want answers. ‘What the f*ck happened here?!’ There are no answers, there’s no witnesses. Anthony‘s taken away, all that, they bring him to the hospital, so we had to go away because they won’t let us at the hospital — can’t do that – so we had to go home and deal with this sh*t.
“A week goes by, there’s a witness, they found a witness — OK, good, they saw it [the murder] happen, blah-blah-blah… I’ll cut to the chase because this is all in the book, we go through the court system in the Bronx, New York… And this is horrible, I pray to God none of the people listening right now ever have to go through that, it was a horror show. It was me, my family, and the other side. And you can imagine the Scorcese kind of a vibe, very Italian kind of a thing, mob-guy wannabes. There was some speculation, I don’t know for sure, so I can’t say it. Speculation, right?
“Long story short, there was a lot of intimidation that was trying to be passed along, really bad stuff, and I don’t want that stuff, but I’m gonna defend my family, right, so there was a lot of court people, there was a lot of officer in there just trying to keep us in line, everybody, there was a lot of court people, lot of officers…
“Long story short, going through all these preliminary things, through this court system, and you find out the next time the witness disappeared. Witness disappeared, they can’t find him, he disappeared… Now, what I hear off the street is there was another story. He didn’t disappear, he ran away. You can read between the lines there, right? It was a definite hard thing for somebody to actually have seen it happen and leave and not talk about it because he said it beforehand, he said he saw it, we couldn’t do anything about it, you’re powerless, just so you know, the side of the family, the victim’s family, is powerless.
“Next thing you hear, the detective comes to us and said, ‘We lost the witness, we’ll keep trying.’ But as of now, it’s still a cold case that burns through your heart and your stomach every day of your life. So I don’t know if I put that in retrospective for you, just a taste of it, but it’s in the book — and I don’t want to have to sell the book like this, but that’s just a part of it, so what people don’t know is I kind of snapped.
“ANTHRAX was off-tour and all that stuff, so I kind of snapped, to be really honest with you. I didn’t know me anymore. You know when you think there’s a dark side, I didn’t know this dark side I had, I didn’t know I had this dark side. Weeks after that, to be really blunt, nobody knew what I was doing, I went looking, I hunted, and very discreetly — I didn’t tell anybody, I didn’t tell my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing.
“I never touched a gun in my life, but I went to people I shouldn’t have talked to back then, all the things you can think of. It came to fruition where I had this thing come up to me where I was talking to my wife, and after a couple of weeks of doing that [searching for the killer discreetly], I had a realization, I said, ‘Look, if I do this, I’m gonna lose my wife and my mother’s gonna lose another son.’
“Either way, either I’m dead or I go to jail, I don’t want to do that, and something came back, a realization, ‘I can’t do this.’ I can only be honest with this sh*t because it’s very real, and it’s very from the heart. I was gonna avenge my brother, and I don’t want to say it like that because I’m not that guy, but I snapped for a little while.
“I don’t know what came into me, what got me back into reality and not doing that, it was a very scary place where you don’t know who you are,” Bello added. “I’m sorry I had to bring that up to you, but I thought it was important that you knew. It’s cathartic to almost talk about it because I’ve been through a lot of therapy for all this sh*t. It really f*cked me up because I felt guilty about being on the tour so much, and not being there for my brother.
“Maybe if I would have been the father figure to my brother, he would have had a little more discipline about people he’s hanging out with, whatever, I have a lot of guilt through that.”