Wayne Mills, Wayne Mills, leader of the outlaw-country Wayne Mills Band, was killed during an altercation with a bar owner in Nashville early Saturday morning (Nov. 23). Police say Pit and Barrel owner Chris Ferrell shot the 44-year-old. Ferrell said the 5AM shooting was in self-defense.
Ferrell had not been arrested as of Sunday night, but police are still investigating. WKRN-TV in Nashville reports that the shooting happened after Mills began smoking a cigarette in a non-smoking area of the bar, upsetting Ferrell. The two began to argue, and others inside the bar left at that point. Police were contacted after gunshots were heard moments later. It’s not clear if anyone witnessed the shooting. CNN says that the two men were friends.
Mills suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Fans of the Wayne Mills Band learned of the shooting Saturday afternoon, when his manager, JR Smith, posted on his Facebook page. Less than three hours later (shortly before 8PM), he shared news of Mills’ death.
“Word is Wayne has passed. God be with us all in this tragedy,” a post reads.
Police initially misidentified the victim as songwriter Clayton Mills, causing much confusion. In fact, family (Mills leaves behind a wife and 6-year-old son) wasn’t notified for nearly half a day. WZTV-TV in Nashville reports they broke the news to Smith.
“I’m still just trying to wrap this around my head and trying to understand why anyone would want to shoot Wayne Mills,” Smith reveals.
‘American Idol’ winner Taylor Hicks, Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton were among the well-known singers Mills had played with and befriended during his country career. He is described as a “stiff-necked, country troubadour with an affinity for honky-tonks” at his official website.
“Extremely sad to hear about the death of my old friend Wayne Mills @WayneMillsBand,” Shelton tweeted on Saturday. “Rest in peace brother. Love you Carol.”
Hicks also tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Wayne he was my buddy.”
Jerald Wayne Mills grew up in Arab, Ala. and played football at the University of Alabama, where he graduated with an education degree. He’d been working on his seventh album between tour dates.
Ferrell’s bar was scheduled to be featured on the Spike TV show ‘Bar Rescue’ on Sunday night. The network instead ran a rerun, but hours later aired the Pit and Barrel episode. A petition at Change.org is requesting a formal apology to Mills’ family.
Police say Ferrell has a valid handgun carry permit. Updates at the Wayne Mills Band Facebook page reveal that the singer’s funeral service will be after Thanksgiving. A benefit event is also being planned, and the Wayne Mills Family Fund for Carol and Jack has been set up at First Bank in Tennessee.