Former University of Arkansas Basketball Player Killed Outside NightclubAP , Associated Press
Jan. 2, 1991 3:32 AM ET
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A former University of Arkansas long distance runner faces a murder charge today after he surrendered to authorities in the fatal night-club shooting of another former Razorback athlete, police said.
Onetime Arkansas basketball player William Mills, 26, of Fayetteville, died early Tuesday morning with multiple wounds from a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol, police said.
Michael Landon Byrd, 27, of Fayetteville was in custody Tuesday night on murder and assault charges, police said. Byrd surrendered to authorities about three hours after the shooting, his lawyer said.
Mills was a talented basketball player kicked off the team during the 1986-87 season because of recurring drug problems.
A witness who works at the night club, Hollywood's, gave his version of the shooting to the Springdale News.
The witness, who was not named, told the newspaper Byrd had been ejected from the club for starting a fight with Scott Sanders, a friend of Mills.
What they were fighting about was not immediately known.
Later, Mills was standing a few feet outside Hollywood's entrance when he was accosted by Byrd, who was returning to the club, the witness said. Mills was shot in the leg with a shotgun, then fled inside and fell down in the lobby, he said.
The pursuing gunman ''picked William up by the chest and pumped four or five rounds point-blank into his chest'' with the pistol, the witness said.
''Then he turned and calmly walked to a white pickup truck and drove away,'' the witness said.
Before the shooting, he knew Byrd as ''a mild-mannered guy who was always polite,'' the witness said.
''I was shocked,'' he said. ''Last night was the first time I ever saw him lose his temper.''
Three bystanders were slightly wounded by buckshot, which also shattered a plate-glass window and a door, police said.
Casey Jones, a public defender appointed to represent Byrd, declined comment except to say that his client turned himself in voluntarily.
A native of Longview, Texas, Byrd was a distance runner on Arkansas' track and cross country teams from 1983 to 1985.
Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson kicked Mills off the Razorback team after a series of drug problems. Richardson started coaching the team during the 1985-86 season, when Mills was a junior.
''After something like this happens you think, what more could we have done to help? You think: If I could have gotten here sooner or spent some more time with him,'' Richardson said.
Mills was a native of Perkins, Ga. He was suspended from the team twice before Richardson made it final.