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October 31, 2014

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Moments Captured:

Playing the pain away

Tom Urbanski, shot and paralyzed in 2007, finds therapeutic escape into music

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Tiffany Brown

Tom Urbanski practices guitar while bedridden at his temporary Residence Inn home in Las Vegas in July 2008. A little more than three years ago, Urbanski thought he would never play the guitar again.

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Tom Urbanski

Tom Urbanski practices the guitar in August 2008. Paralysis after being shot in 2007 hasn't kept the former professional wrestler and bouncer out of the spotlight. Launch slideshow »

The Debut, 2010: Four Bullets Later

Three years after Tom Urbanski was shot and paralyzed from the waist down, he's achieved a goal that once seemed impossible: to play the guitar again. He named his band "Four Bullets Later", and they debuted Saturday, May 8, 2010 at Hogs & Heifers Saloon, with another performance coming up there Saturday, May 15.

The Shooting, 2007: Four Bullets Later

Tom Urbanski was shot four times on February 19, 2007 while working as a bouncer at Minxx strip club in Las Vegas. He and his wife, Kathy, tell the story of their following year.

“I go into days where I go into funks ... and the pain gets so bad. I go and I grab my guitar and I can put an old CD on and just jam along with it, and I just zone out and go into another world. And pain, pain goes away,” Tom Urbanski says.

Urbanski was shot four times while working as a bouncer outside Minxx strip club in the early hours of Feb. 19, 2007. The former pro wrestler and lifelong guitarist was paralyzed from the waist down.

“The night I got shot I knew I was paralyzed ... My first thought was, ‘I’m not gonna walk again.’ My second thought was, ‘I’m not gonna be able to play guitar or hug my wife again, either.’ ”

But Urbanski regained the use of his arms. And last weekend he played guitar on a downtown Las Vegas stage with his classic rock cover band, Four Bullets Later.

The performance at Hogs & Heifers Saloon was the realization of a dream he’d had since the shooting.

The crowd of longtime friends and bar patrons rocked with the band. There was an air of encouragement and excitement as they watched Urbanski back on stage and loving it.

In addition to Urbanski, the band includes Las Vegans E.B. Gearhart on bass and vocals, EL Rundus on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Jeff Weikel on drums.

Four Bullets Later will take the stage again this weekend for the downtown bar’s fifth annual Hog Wild for Kids charity event benefiting Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and Camp Cartwheel.

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