Chad Merrill was fatally shot in the chest by another white man after he defended his friend, a Black man, Jerrell Douglas, who was being called the N-word and other racial slurs.
At the Red Rose Restaurant and Lounge in Hellam Township, Penn., early Saturday morning, James Saylor, age 24, began a racist rant against Douglas.
After examining surveillance footage from the bar, police determined that there were a number of male patrons seated at the bar when Saylor pushed his way into the group to confront Douglas to make the comments, according to the
York Daily Record.
“It was a racial incident; that’s how it kicked off,” Hellam Township Police Chief Doug Pollock said.
Merrill, age 25, who was seated next to Douglas but further away from Saylor, had come to Douglas’ defense.
Merrill’s brother, Richard, told
The Washington Post that he learned from Douglas that Merrill patted him on the back, telling him to tune it out and not to worry.
“[Douglas] didn’t escalate anything,” Pollock said. “He did the right thing.”
The bar’s owner eventually threw Saylor out. Surveillance video shows him walking toward his car in the parking lot. Saylor then fired a round of shots at the building.
Merrill walked into the parking lot and toward Saylor’s car and when he reached his window, Saylor shot him once in the chest, police said.
Witnesses said Merrill walked up to Saylor’s car for peacemaking.
After firing the deadly shot, Saylor then hit the gas, smashed into an Uber car in the parking lot and drove off. Police arrested Saylor at his home. He is charged with one count of criminal homicide and has been denied bail, according to court records.
Jessica Godden, the mother of Merrill’s five-month-old son, said him defending Douglas was not surprising to her.
“He’s the kind of the person that would give you the shirt off his back even if it was the last shirt he had,” Godden told the
York Daily Record.
His brother, Bobby Merrill, echoed Godden’s sentiment.
“Chad didn’t see things the way other people saw them,” he said. “In his eyes he just thought that everybody was equal. He didn’t understand why people didn’t like other people for stupid things like race, or age, or whatever the case may be.”