Man shot to death while defending his friend against racial slurs, police say

When a man wedged himself between a group of customers at a bar near York, Pennsylvania and began yelling racial slurs at Chad Merrill’s friend, Chad told his friend to ignore him.

His friend, Jerrell Douglas, who is black, took the advice.

But, after the abusive man was kicked out of the Red Rose Restaurant and Lounge early Saturday morning, Chad followed him outside to his pickup truck and confronted him.

Soon after that, a friend of Chad’s, Kierstan McLasky, went outside to look for him and found a gathering crowd of people. As McLasky got closer, she saw Chad lying in a pool of blood.

Witnesses told police another York-area man, James Saylor, was the one yelling the racial slurs. Saylor, 24, is now being held in York County Prison on one count of criminal homicide.

What police, witnesses say

Police in Hellam Township said surveillance-camera footage showed Saylor leaving the bar and firing a shot towards the building. The footage, then, showed Chad approaching Saylor’s truck, after which Saylor shot him in the chest and sped off, crashing into a sedan that was pulling into the parking lot.

The York County Coroner’s office said Chad was transported to a hospital, where he died. He was 25.

Police said they tracked down Saylor the same day at his home, where his Chevrolet Silverado was parked outside. The vehicle had sustained damage that coincided with the parking lot crash, according to a police affidavit.

Saylor’s preliminary hearing is set for August 3. Court records show he had six previous convictions for careless driving and related traffic violations. It couldn’t be determined Tuesday whether he has an attorney.

James Saylor mugshot

McLasky told Chad’s brother, Richard Merrill, that she and Chad had shot some darts that night at the bar. He told her that he had just bought some tools for his work in masonry.

And moments before he left the bar, he told McLasky how happy he was to be a new father to his 5-month-old son.

‘He was the type of person to create peace’

Richard said he got the call about his brother’s death from another of his siblings.

“I was just pretty much in shock. I couldn’t believe it,” he told CNN. “He was definitely the type of person to create peace and make everyone else get along.”

Chad recently tried to get another of his brothers and his mother to speak after years of not doing so, Richard said.

The birth of his son, Layton, marked a new chapter in Chad’s life. He had longed for a child.

His brother repeatedly used “ecstatic” to describe Chad’s reaction to the news of the pregnancy. He was especially thrilled to learn he was having a boy.

“When he was feeding him, the way he would stare, and the smile he had on his face… he was just so happy to be a dad,” Richard said.

Several attempts to contact Douglas, the friend who Chad was defending, have been unsuccessful.

The Red Rose Restaurant and Lounge expressed their sympathies in a Facebook post.

“We would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to the Merrill family. Please know that our sincere thoughts and prayers are with you,” the bar said.

A GoFundMe page to help with chad’s funeral costs has raised more than $60,000. Any leftover funds will go to his newborn son, it said.

Richard said his family has shed their share of tears, especially when looking through photos and videos of his slain brother. But, they’re trying to focus on the good memories.

“We’re definitely trying to make it a point to talk to each other more and look after each other,” Richard said.