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Nashville Bar Owner Fatally Shoots 'Outlaw' Country Music Singer

Country music stars Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton opened for the Wayne Mills Band in their early careers.

Wayne Mills (Image source: band website)

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

Wayne Mills (Image source: band website)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A downtown bar owner told police he fatally shot a country music singer in self-defense after the two got into an argument over the musician smoking a cigarette in a no-smoking area, authorities said.

Pit and Barrel owner Chris Ferrell shot Wayne Mills, 44, around 5 a.m. Saturday, after the bar had closed, The Tennessean reported. Mills died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from a gunshot wound to the head, noted WSMV-TV in Nashville.

Mills, a native of Arab, Ala., toured with the Wayne Mills Band, which played college towns for more than 15 years. Country music stars Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton, as well as American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, all opened for the band in their early careers, according to the group's website — which also refers to Mills as an "outlaw" and a "stiff-necked country troubadour with an affinity for Honky-Tonks and possessing a style of rustic simplicity."

Pit and Barrel was to have been featured Sunday on "Bar Rescue" on the Spike TV, but the cable network decided to pull the episode, running a rerun instead, according to spokeswoman Shana Tepper.

The series features struggling bars and clubs that are given makeovers by a nightclub expert.

Police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said investigators are looking into Ferrell's claim of self-defense. She said no arrests have been made. Ferrell had a valid handgun permit.

Michael Scott, who was among a group of friends with Mills, told WSMV they attended a George Jones tribute concert Friday night and then went drinking at a couple of bars before the Pit and Barrel. Others in the group left the bar during Mills' argument with Ferrell and reported hearing gunshots.

Blake Shelton tweeted his condolences:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/blakeshelton/status/404443866717093888"]

Mills graduated from the University of Alabama with an education degree, and also played football for the school, according to the band's website.

A report from WAFF-TV in Huntsville, Ala.:

Here's a look at Mills in action:

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