Jerald Wayne Mills was the frontman for the Wayne Mills band. He was killed in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, during an altercation at a bar.
(Photo: File photo via The Tennessean)
Nashville police on Sunday said they are still investigating a fatal shooting in the early hours of Saturday morning that left a country singer dead inside a downtown Nashville bar.
Wayne Mills, 44, was shot by Pit and Barrel bar owner Chris Ferrell, police said. Ferrell told police he shot Mills in self-defense following an argument over Mills smoking in the bar. Mills later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
"We're investigating Chris Ferrell's claims of self-defense," said Kris Mumford, a police spokeswoman. Ferrell is not in custody and there have been no arrests, she said.
Mills toured with the Wayne Mills Band, which often performed on the college circuit. The music was "outlaw/southern rock flavored," according to the band's website. Early in their careers, country music stars Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks had all opened for the band.
On Sunday, Blake Shelton tweeted: "Extremely sad to hear about the death of my old friend Wayne Mills."
Reached by phone, band manager J.R. Smith was overcome with emotion. "I just can't speak about it right now," he said.
Pit and Barrel owner Ferrell could not be reached for comment.
In an odd twist, Pit and Barrel was to have been featured on tonight's episode of Bar Rescue on cable network Spike TV. The series features struggling bars and nightclubs that are given makeovers by a nightclub expert. The network has decided to pull the episode, running a rerun of a previous show instead, according to spokeswoman Shana Tepper.
On Saturday, police initially issued a report to news media misidentifying the shooting victim. Police first identified the victim as a Nashville songwriter with the same last name, Clayton Mills, but later retracted that, saying two witnesses named the wrong Mills as the victim.
Both Ferrell and Mills have prior arrest records. Ferrell was arrested twice for driving on a suspended license. Both charges were dismissed. Wayne Mills had prior convictions for driving under the influence and for reckless endangerment.
Mills leaves behind a wife and young son. His manager has established a Wayne Mills Family Fund for them. Donations can be made at any FirstBank branch or at firstbankonline.com. A benefit concert is also being planned, according to the band's Facebook page.
Anita Wadhwani, The Tennessean