Spike Lee film actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd shot dead at the age of 70
Thomas Jefferson Byrd, famous for starring in director Spike Lee’s films, has been shot dead in Atlanta at the age of 70.
Police were called to a residence in Georgia City at 1.45am on Saturday but found Byrd unresponsive with reports he had been shot multiple times in the back.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and officers said their investigations are ongoing, according to Variety.
Bird made his acting debut in an episode of In The Heat Of The Night in 1992, three years before he started featuring in Lee’s films, including 1996’s Get On The Bus, 2000’s Bamboozled and 2014’s Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus.
The star was also nominated for a Tony award in 2003 for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
His final role onscreen was Civil War drama Freedom's Path which is set to be released later this year.
Lee paid tribute to his friend on Instagram over a series of posts.
He wrote: "I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta,Georgia. Tom Is My Guy,
“Here Below You See Him As The Frightening Character Errol Barnes In CLOCKERS. Brother Byrd Also Did His Thang In My Joints- CHI-RAQ,SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, RED HOOK SUMMER,BAMBOOZLED,HE GOT GAME,GET ON THE BUS,GIRL 6 And CLOCKERS. May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd”
Many other stars shared their condolences on social media.
Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis wrote: "Oh no!!! 2020! Whaaattt!!! Loved working with you Byrd. What a fine actor you were. So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family. So very sorry."
Suits actor Wendell Pierce said: “Thomas Jefferson Byrd, was an actor in the unofficial repertory company of Spike Lee movies. What Joseph Cotton was to Orson Welles, Byrd was for Spike. The “everyman” character actor. He was a part of the Black Arts Renaissance of Fort Greene in the 80s.”
And lawyer Ben Crump wrote: “Thomas Jefferson Byrd, actor and fellow @OfficialOPPF brother known for many roles in Spike Lee films, was fatally shot in Atlanta this weekend. Sending my deepest prayers and condolences to Tom’s family”