There’s nothing quite as fun as a night out at your favorite bar, but for Chad Merrill, one such night ended in terrible tragedy. The 25-year-old new dad was shot in the chest and killed in the early hours of Saturday morning outside the Red Rose Restaurant and Lounge in York, Pennsylvania after speaking up in defense of a black man being called the n-word and other racial slurs.
This is how the situation allegedly went down, according to the York Daily Record. Merrill may have been friends with the black man, Jerrell Douglas, or may just have known him from being a regular at the bar, that part isn’t entirely clear. Either way, a group of men, including Merrill and Douglas, were sitting at the bar when James Saylor, 24, bellied up and began to call Douglas the n-word and other racial slurs.
The other men at the bar apparently tried to ignore Saylor. Meanwhile, Merrill, sitting next to Douglas, tried to get Douglas to focus on him rather than on Saylor’s attacks. Soon afterward, Saylor was kicked out by the owner of the establishment, Nick Spagnolo, for his reprehensible behavior.
Hellam Township Police Chief Doug Pollock told the York Daily Record, “You could tell he [Saylor] was giving [Douglas] crap…He’s being a jerk. It was a racial incident; that’s how it kicked off.”
Footage from the bar’s surveillance camera reportedly shows Saylor out in the parking lot after being kicked out, trying to get into a pickup truck that wasn’t his. He then pulled out a gun and fired it in the direction of the bar. After that, Saylor managed to find his own truck, get inside, and start it up.
Unfortunately, that’s when an Uber driver pulled in to the parking lot, blocking Saylor from leaving. At that point, Merrill came out of the bar and walked up to Saylor’s truck. Police aren’t sure if any words were exchanged between the two men, but Saylor fired the gun into Merrill’s chest. He then took off in the truck, hitting the Uber on his way out.
Damage from the collision helped police match the description of the vehicle later in the morning, as the truck was found at Saylor’s address, where he lives with his parents in their basement. Police reportedly found blood on the rear driver’s side door of Saylor’s truck, as well as Saylor’s gun inside the truck. They also allegedly found a shell casing from the bullet that killed Merrill. Saylor has been charged with criminal homicide.
Chad Merrill’s brother, Richard Merrill, said his brother probably went out to the parking lot to talk to Saylor as an attempt at peacemaking. Speaking to the Washington Post, Richard Merrill said of his brother, “He didn’t want people hating each other or the world being segregated the way it is, with the racism you see all over the news. The world wants to keep everything segregated and he would rather have seen everybody get along.”