Country singer dies after being shot at downtown bar

Wayne Mills
Wayne Mills (Courtesy:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A country singer has died after he was shot in the head following an altercation at a bar in downtown Nashville early Saturday morning.

Jerald “Wayne” Mills, 44, of the Wayne Mills Band, was shot just before 5 a.m. at the Pit and Barrel bar located at 515 2nd Avenue South near Lea Avenue. The bar was closed at the time.

The preliminary investigation reveals Mills was smoking a cigarette in a non-smoking area of the bar, upsetting the bar’s owner, Chris Ferrell.

Ferrell and Mills allegedly began to argue. Others still inside the bar at the time left.

Once outside, according to police, witnesses heard gunshots and contacted police.

Pit and Barrel Shooting
Pit and Barrel bar in downtown Nashville on Nov. 23, 2013.

Mills was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he died Saturday evening.

Ferrell, who has a valid handgun carry permit, told police he shot Mills in self defense. The investigation is ongoing.

Mills’ manager J.R. Smith told News 2 Mills was a gentle giant and one of the friendliest people you could imagine.

“He was my best friend,” he said, adding, “He has never been aggressive.”

Country singer T. G. Sheppard met Mills a few years ago and a friendship sparked. Mills spent years singing in honky-tonks and eventually recorded a duet with Sheppard, a remake of his song “I Loved ‘Em Everyone,” which has not yet been released.

Sheppard bumped into Mills Friday night backstage at the George Jones tribute concert.

“He was in great spirits, he was excited to be there and told me he thought they were going to release our duet,” Sheppard recalled.

Never did Sheppard dream it would be the last time he saw Mills.

Pit and Barrel Shooting
Pit and Barrel bar in downtown Nashville on Nov. 23, 2013

Mills leaves behind a wife and six-year-old son. A fund has been set up at FirstBank for his family.

A benefit for the family will be held Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Winner’s Bar and Grill on Division Street in Midtown.

The Tin Roof will host another benefit for Mills next Wednesday, December 4.

The victim was previously misidentified as songwriter Clayton Mills, 50.

According to Metro Police, Ferrell, 45, has an arrest history in Nashville.

A charge of driving with a suspended licence in 2001 was dismissed. And on July 17, 2013, he was booked for vandalism under $500, domestic assault with bodily injury and interference with an emergency call. An affidavit obtained by News 2 shows Ferrell was allegedly the primary aggressor in a domestic assault in July, involving a woman he had previously dated. The interference charge was dismissed, but the other two charges are still pending, according to police records.

Pit and Barrel was featured on “Bar Rescue”

Chris Ferrell and his bar were featured in a recent episode of “Bar Rescue” on Spike TV.

Coincidentally, the episode was scheduled to run Sunday night. Spike TV pulled the episode but failed for remove a late-night telecast.

In a statement sent to News 2 Monday, spokesperson Shana Tepper apologized for the network.

She wrote, in part, “We regretfully did not remove a late-night telecast of the episode. We apologize to all those affected by the terrible tragedy over the weekend and to Jon Taffer, the production team, and our advertisers for our unfortunate human error.”

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