Spike Lee revealed tragic news on Sunday that Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who appeared in several of the director’s movies, had been murdered on Saturday night. The deadly scene occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. Byrd appeared in Chi-Raq, Clockers, Sweet Blood of Jesus, Red Hook Summer and Bamboozled among others.
One of his co-stars in Chi-Raq, Jay Washington, paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter. "Rest In Peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd," he began, "seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee. I had the honor of working with Mr. Byrd in CHI-RAQ but enjoyed much of his work SHES GOTTA HAVE IT, SET IT OFF." In Chi-Raq, which debuted in 2015, Washington played the part of Besomighty. That film also starred Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes and Jennifer Hudson.
Rest In Peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee. I had the honor of working with Mr. Byrd in CHI-RAQ but enjoyed much of his work SHES GOTTA HAVE IT, SET IT OFF, "Niggas is a beautiful thing" in BAMBOOZLED and so much more. pic.twitter.com/7BiC40N6Yf— Jay Washington (@MrJayWashington) October 4, 2020
Details and a motive of the incident remain scarce. A CNN news report said officers to a call in southwest Atlanta over an injured person, discovering the body of the 70-year-old with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
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. pic.twitter.com/oFPMKIKOro— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) October 4, 2020
In his post, Lee sent his condolences to Byrd’s family. "Tom Is My Guy," Lee said. "May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd." Outside of working with Lee, Byrd’s work in movies was limited but he did appear in television in a few roles, including on Mama Flora's Family, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and, more recently, She's Gotta Have It.
Others in the industry expressed their sorrow over the news, including Viola Davis, who will be starring alongside the late Chadwick Boseman in Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. "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."