‘I Just Had to Shoot Him’: Black Pennsylvania Barbershop Owner Charged with First Degree Murder for Killing White Neighbor Heard on 911 Calling Him the N-word

Authorities say a Pennsylvania barbershop owner murdered his upstairs neighbor who repeatedly called him a racial slur.

Maurice Byrd, 41, was charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting 37-year-old Stephen Strassburg outside of a salon in a Philadelphia suburb.

Investigators said Strassburg lived above Byrd’s shop, and the two men had been clashing for years. Police were called three times in the last 18 months to intercede in their disputes. The two men were ordered to avoid contact with each other.

'I Just Had to Shoot Him': Black Barbershop Owner Charged with First Degree for Killing White Neighbor Heard on 911 Calling Him the N-word
Maurice Bryd (Photo: Hatboro Police Department)

Then, on Saturday, June 8, police were called to the parking lot of Byrd’s shop, where they found Strassburg with several gunshot wounds. Investigators say he was shot in the face, shoulder, and back. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died.

According to a criminal complaint, Byrd, who is Black, called police Saturday afternoon to report that Strassburg had “verbally assaulted” him and was calling him a “dirty n-word.”

Police transcribed the 911 call in which Strassburg, who is white, could be heard saying, “What are you going to do? You going to shoot me, N-word?”

“Byrd then says, ‘I just had to shoot him,'” according to a criminal complaint. “The dispatcher asks, ‘Did you hit him?’ to which Byrd responds, ‘Yes, I did.'”

In a news release, authorities said that the 911 dispatcher “heard five gunshots, then a pause, followed by two additional gunshots.”

Byrd stayed on the line with that dispatcher until police and first responders arrived. Investigators recovered Byrd’s 9mm handgun and found evidence that seven shots were fired.

Strassburg was unarmed, but a few witnesses reported that they saw Strassburg approach Byrd and call him slurs before the shooting.

According to the police affidavit, one couple told police they saw Strassburg confront Byrd outside the shop and call him a “drug dealer.” Another person “stated this male then went around the corner out of view but came back a short time later calling Maurice a N-word and observed this male ‘charge at Maurice.”

A female witness said that the two men were “attempting to land punches” before the shooting but said she believed Strassburg started the fight.

Byrd told investigators that he was standing outside of his shop smoking a cigarette when Strassburg yelled a racial slur at him.

Byrd went into the shop to call 911, and Strassburg shouted “dirty N-word” again at Byrd. When Byrd went outside again, Strassburg followed him out and grabbed his shirt. Then, Byrd grabbed his handgun from the front of his waistband.

The barber told police that Strassburg then said, “What you gonna do, shoot me n****r,” and pulled his arm back to punch Byrd.

Byrd said that’s when he shot Strassburg.

Byrd was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, and possession of a weapon. He’s in jail without bond.

According to Pennsylvania law, first-degree murder is defined as an “intentional killing,” while third-degree murder includes “all other types of murder” that do not fall under first- or second-degree murder.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, court records show Strassburg had been jailed several times between 2007 and 2017 for driving with a suspended license, possession of drug paraphernalia, harassment, and simple assault. He also pleaded guilty to three DUIs in six years.

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